Technical Reports

Assessment of Locomotive Crew In-Cab Occupational Noise Exposure

  • 01
  • Dec
  • 1980
AUTHOR: Roger D. Kilmer
SUBJECT: Occupational Noise Exposure, Locomotive Standards (Safety & Noise)
KEYWORDS: Safety Assessment, Simplified Testing, In-Cab Sound Level
ABSTRACT: The railroad industry, unlike most other U.S. industries, is not subject to the safety regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Instead, railroad workers are covered by the safety regulations of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). This report documents an extensive study designed to assess the noise environment in locomotive cabs. Operational duty cycle and in-cab sound level data are presented for 18 test runs made on 16 different locomotives used in wide range of operational modes (e.g., through freight and local transfer freights), varied terrains (mountainous, undulating and flat) and varied trip lengths (6 to 12 hours). The general conclusion of this study is that there does not appear to be a widespread problem of overexposure to noise based on the same type of evaluation as currently used by OSFA (only 1 out of 18 test runs exceeded the criteria). The noise exposure is within acceptable limits because the operational duty cycle is such that the sources which generate high sound levels (horn and brake) are operating only for short periods of time and because the locomotive spends a great deal of time in idle (diesel engine sound levels below 90 dB). However, there was one test run for which an overexposure to noise was measured. To pinpoint such cases where overexposure to noise may occur, a simplified testing procedure is developed. This test consists of making in-cab sound level measurements of engine notch 8 (no load), horn sounding and brake application with the locomotive stationary. With these three sound level measurements and an estimate of the time that the locomotive is operating on-line, the in-service noise dose can be estimated and a pass/fail assessment made of whether the noise exposure might exceed acceptable limits.
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