Excessive vibration exerted on the human body can cause many harmful phenomena that can result in permanent bodily damage or permanent disability. Human vibration is classified into two main categories: Hand,arm vibration and whole,body vibration. Hand,arm vibration is vibration transmitted through a percussive tool handle via the hand,arm system to the rest of the body. The main diseases concerning hand,arm vibration are Vibration White Finger (VWF), neurological diseases in the hand and fingers and musculoskeletal diseases like carpal tunnel syndrome. These diseases, especially VWF and musculoskeletal disorders, are mainly associated with lower frequencies. VWF in particular is more likely to occur when an operator is subjected to vibrations with high magnitudes in the 25-40 Hz region. The operating frequencies of most rock drills vary between 30 and 50 Hz. Although there are many other contributing factors like grip force, hand temperature and subject variability, prevalence of VWF among rock drill operators is relatively high in the world. The situation in South Africa is not yet very clear, and further research must be done to evaluate the current status of VWF in South Africa. Vibration energy at higher frequencies can be attenuated with rubber grips or gloves, and these types of dampers are already available on the market. The problem concerning the operating frequency of the drill has not yet been successfully addressed, and thus remains a problem in the rock drill industry as it is at the moment. The main objective of this thesis was the development and testing of a concept that can potentially be implemented on a rock drill to attenuate the operating frequency of a rock drill. The concept must be able to account for minor changes in operating frequency on a specific drill. In addition to that, the drill operating frequency varies from one drill to another. The thesis also aims to lay the mathematical foundation to design an attenuating handle for a specific drill with a specific operating frequency. All the objectives must be obtained without noticeable sacrifices in drill control or performance. The thesis includes the concept generation, optimisation, design and manufacture of a rock drill vibration absorber. The absorber has been tested, and the results are presented.
Dissertation (M Eng (Mechanical Engineering))--University of Pretoria, 2007.