But when they won a large contract with the US giant General Motors to design and manufacture a new turbo-charged V6 racing engine for the 2012 IndyCar championship, its managers knew immediately this would result in significantly increased production as well as noise levels across the manufacturing and testing departments.
At the time, the company’s existing noise management system split the factory into ‘Zones’ based upon the noise exposure levels. The main machine shop was mostly Zone 0 – or where noise levels are below action level 1 / 80dB(A).
The new contract meant additional machine tools had to be installed in the main machine shop adding to the noise background levels.
These additions also speeded up the production rate but had the potential to ‘tip’ some of the machine operators working in Zone 0 or exposure above 80dB(A).
Nick Phillips, Ilmor Engineering’s Manufacturing Manager explained: “When employees are loading and unloading work into the machine, an air gun is used to blow the swarf and excess cutting fluid from the machine. This generates very high levels of noise, albeit of short duration, so hearing protection was used by our operators to control their levels of exposure to noise.”
To determine whether Ilmor Engineering workers were being exposed to noise levels above 80dB(A) a repeat occupational noise exposure survey was carried out using a Cirrus Research doseBadge®.