This article presents the work carried out as part of a project aiming to regulate the noise exposure of workers of PETROBRAS refining units. This is a corporate project carried out over a three years’ period (2012 to 2015) by the Supply business unit of the Brazilian company. The uniqueness of this project is due to its scale. Indeed, this encompassed twelve refineries located throughout Brazil. The corporate approach to deal with noise exposure risk leads to an overall data consolidation allowed by a standardized methodology.
The methodology used is split into four phases. First, a long but necessary planning stage, then an exhaustive assessment of the current noise situation of production areas was carried out during the first twelve months of the project. This stage allowed the involvement of several important tools used to identify and rank noise exposure issues. This lead to noise maps of every industrial area and an acoustic database of equipment exceeding regulatory limits (sound power level and directivity). Third, every industrial area was modelled into noise prediction software compliant with ISO 9613-2 standard. Finally, acoustic damping solutions were designed and proportioned by size of equipment.
This mixed approach of measurement and numerical simulation mobilized a dedicated ACOEM project team comprising of eight acoustic experts. Principal achievement of this project, concluded in 2015, is a clear vision of the noise control priorities allowed by standardized methodology on all refineries in a short time. This achievement leads to a coherent set of controls for the future investments to be done to mitigate noise exposure risks.
In addition to highlighting the benefits of integrated Health Safety and Environment (HSE) management, this work provides an understanding on the use of virtual computing doses from propagating acoustic model.