Crystal-Clear Communications for a Safer Industrial Environment

Noise attenuation headsets and two-way radio communicators are an essential part of safety in noisy workplaces. An effective communications headset solution with group communicator capability ensures clear transfer of information between employees, delivers situational awareness, and maximises personal safety and process efficiency.

Headsets that are comfortable to wear and easy to use also provide another benefit – they are the key to minimising the risk of noise-induced hearing loss and other health conditions such as tinnitus.

Practical and effective noise conservation programs and products are essential in Australian workplaces. Between 2002 and 2007 there were 16,500 successful workers’ compensation claims for permanent hearing loss due to noise in industrial environments1.

Key components of an effective hearing conservation and industrial communications solution include:

Verbal communications

A communication headset and two-way radio combination must provide clear and interference-free transfer of voice communication to be considered as an effective tool.

On mine sites where workers are routinely exposed to noisy environments, and need to have the ability to hear alarms, it is imperative they have appropriate equipment at their disposal. This helps them complete assignments and communicate clearly with each other and maintain situational awareness of sources of audible signals, such as vehicle beepers and reversing indicators.

Some may see a mobile phone as the answer to these communication issues. However, mobile handsets are not always practical since they can lead to dangerous distractions, and in many mines, their use is either restricted or banned.

For example, in 2013 the Queensland Government’s Mine Inspectorate investigated several serious injuries sustained by miners because they were accessing social media while operating heavy machinery2.

Improved productivity

Productivity is a key performance indicator of any modern industrial operation. Companies continuously seek to manage and control costs. They also want to improve workplace safety standards to demonstrate commitment to the wellbeing of employees, which maintains and increases morale and helps with increased productivity and reduced downtime.

A report from Sweden’s Lund University3 found that two-way radio headsets can save 85 minutes of critical downtime. The ‘downtime’ in the study is defined as single measurements for one minute or more where no direct work is performed, such as walking between places at the site, shorter breaks, reading drawings, looking for material or equipment, and talking to co-workers to solve problems.

This study also found the critical downtime saved from using the headsets equated a total of 37 hours on a normal 26-week project.

An effective noise attenuating, communications solution eliminates the need to leave noisy areas in order to have a conversation – or worse, remove the hearing protector, even if only for a brief moment.

Prevention of noise-induced hearing loss

Effective radios and headsets should prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Industrial activities, including use of pneumatic tools, machinery and heavy equipment make very loud noises and cause a variety of hearing issues with workers.

In some cases, a poorly manufactured headset can be the cause of hearing problems due to issues such as ‘acoustic shock’.

According to Safe Work Australia3, acoustic shock is defined as a “sudden, unexpected loud noises occurring during telephone headset use, including crackles, hisses, whistles, shrieks or high-pitched noises”.

Background noise can also add to the problem because operators may raise the volume in their headsets to improve hearing, which in turn increases the volume of any peripheral noise coming though the headset.

The only effective and legal solution to this problem is to have a headset that is designed to minimise, or even stop, issues relating to hearing loss.

The Solution – 3M™ PELTOR™ range of level-dependent, ambient-noise attenuating communications headsets with in-built UHF two-way radios

3M’s PELTOR™ range is the market leader for communication headset and two-way radio solutions.

The headsets and radio combinations deliver exceptional performance in the three key aforementioned aspects of an industrial communications network:

  • effective two-way radio communications;
  • facilitate workplace productivity improvement; and
  • prevention of noise-induced hearing loss.

These high-quality and robust solutions can be used in a wide range of industrial contexts including underground coalmines, high-noise construction sites, warehouses and manufacturing industries.

Click here to view 3M’s complete range of Hearing & Communication products.

  1. http://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/news/mine-workers-put-safety-risk-using-social-media-jo/1719126/
  2. http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1136724O/3mpeltor-litecom-universitystudy.pdf
  3. https://www.safework.sa.gov.au/uploaded_files/CoPManagingNoisePreventingHearingLossWork.pdf