Certain workplace environments, such as industrial plants, warehouses and manufacturers, can expose team members to high levels of noise which can be hazardous.
Not only does this pose a risk of hearing loss and poor situational awareness; excessive noise levels can also affect productivity in the workplace too. Noise-reducing headphones can protect staff and help them communicate effectively in loud workplaces.
Noise cancellation provides ear protection by reducing all external ambiance noise. By creating a quieter experience, the wearer can avoid hearing damage and distraction. For industrial sound-canceling headsets, this involves a mixture of passive and active noise cancellation or digital noise suppression.
Passive noise cancellation uses layers of sound-absorbing materials surrounding the ear, specifically designed to absorb higher frequency noise. This blocks out around 15 to 20 decibels but isn’t sufficient enough for very noisy work environments which can exceed 85 decibels.
Active noise cancellation uses battery power to erase lower-frequency sound waves using ‘destructive interference’. This is where a microphone is placed in the headset earpiece which detects external noise and generates an inaudible sound wave that is opposite to the incoming sound wave. When the two collide, they cancel each other out.
These two types of noise cancellation methods are highly effective in reducing harmful levels of external sound. However, there is a drawback to noise cancellation in a work environment.
The effectiveness of noise-canceling itself can present limitations in a workplace when certain sounds still need to be heard.
A major concern with a noise-cancellation approach is that all sounds external to the headset are subjected to cancellation. This can mean that the wearer is less likely to be aware of vehicle movement hazards, heavy equipment motion, alarms, or even warnings shouted by other workers. So while their hearing is protected, the lack of sound can disconnect a person’s alertness to the environment around them.
With safety being a major concern for any worksite, this presents a serious risk to the well-being of workers. It can also impact productivity and effective communications between people who are unable to clearly hear face-to-face discussions.
A way to overcome both the hearing protection and communication limitation is through noise suppression technology.
Noise suppression takes noise cancellation to a whole new level.
The headset uses digital technology to reduce harmful background noise to a safe level while isolating and enhancing speech when Noise Suppression is combined with Speech Enhancement technology. This means that users can hear each other and their surroundings, as well as remain protected while working in high noise environments.
This is a better alternative for the work environment because noise suppression allows workers to still hear their surroundings but at a safe level so they can identify alarms and other potential hazards; this is as opposed to active noise-canceling which blocks out all noise and does not allow for situational awareness or face-to-face communication.
Implementing this digital noise-reducing technology is a preference for noisy work environments such as the oil and gas industry, aircraft, mining, and data centers, among others. Each environment poses unique challenges to hearing protection requirements and will benefit from the use of noise suppression devices.
Modern headsets can now be integrated with two-way radio, Bluetooth-enabled devices, and headset-to-headset communication abilities to offer many different ways for your team to interact effectively.
For more information, read our article Active Noise-Canceling vs. Noise Suppression
The best industrial noise-reducing headphones/ear muffs for effective communication feature noise suppression technology.
Depending on the model, modern noise suppression headsets allow wearers to be able to contact each other in many different ways effectively, even in loud environments. This includes Face-to-Face, Two-Way Radio, Short-Range Headset-to-Headset, and Bluetooth® Cell Phone methods.
The digital technology in some noise suppression headsets also transmits and receives simultaneous audio from multiple sources. This means you can have audio coming into the headset from all different sources at the same time and each wearer won’t miss a thing.
Noise reduction headphones enhance hearing for workers who have already suffered hearing loss, while still affording them protection. This means that even people with hearing aids can wear these headsets so they are able to hear while being protected from further hearing damage due to excessive noise.
No matter the type of frequency of the surrounding noise, or if it’s continuous, short intermittent, or impact bursts of noise (like a gunshot), the noise suppression technology will still produce clear audio that isn’t clipped during a conversation.
‘Clipping’, which is the sudden cut in sound projected to a headset user, occurs in some models that are not designed to withstand certain levels, sharp frequencies, or bursts of noise during communication.
Therefore, they will clip, meaning a conversation can go interrupted. For example, someone saying "Shut off the high-pressure valve and let me know the pressure reading" with clipping it might be heard by another as “Shut off the h-v-let me know-assure reading".
Noise suppression technology must be able to detect and adapt to changes in the surrounding environment to ensure maximum hearing protection, while still allowing for effective communication and awareness.
Different wearers have different preferences. Noise suppression technology can be featured in a variety of design styles including over-the-ear headsets, ear-muffs, and in-ear earplugs.
Unfortunately, not all headsets offer these top 6 benefits. When choosing noise-reducing headsets for your workplace, it’s important that they offer the above advantages.
You can be assured that headsets equipped with Sensear’s Revolutionary SENS® Technology offer superior hearing and situational awareness to your team, compared to other noise-canceling headphones.
Different wearers have different preferences. Noise suppression technology can be featured in a variety of design styles including over-the-ear headsets, ear-muffs and in-ear earplugs.
When it comes to noise reduction in an industrial workplace, some people may use headphones, others may prefer earplugs, and some can even use both.
While the choice can come down to personal preference, there are some differences.
There are two common types of safety earplugs designed to physically block sound for greater ear protection.
One is a moulded foam in a cone shape, with a rounded tip, and the other is a foam cylinder punched out of a sheet of material. The moulded foam version can be reused more times due to its malleable shape which restores itself after use. However, they are often not as comfortable as the moulded foam earplugs.
Earplugs are a type of passive noise cancellation, and their typical range for hearing protection is from 20 to 30 decibels of sound attenuation. While this is a good start, this isn’t a sufficient solution when situational awareness or communication is needed.
For these earplugs to be effective, they need to fit completely into the ear, because only the material within your ear canal actually blocks the sound. Any part of the earplug that is outside your ear canal is material that is ineffective in protecting from loud sounds.
Your brain naturally receives inputs from all of your senses to maintain regular functionality. However, using earplugs for a long period of time can starve your brain of audio stimulation.
It will then adapt and increase your sensitivity of softer sounds which can trigger a condition known as misophonia.
Therefore, it’s advisable to not use regular earplugs as a prolonged solution to blocking out noise. If you need to block out high levels of noise for long periods of time, it's better to use noise suppression headphones or noise suppression ear plugs, which protect hearing and offer continual stimulation for your auditory system.
There are high-tech industrial earplugs, often referred to as Smart earplugs, which feature noise suppression technology and a built-in microphone which uses the pressure conduction within your ear as you talk. These are classed as Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs) and very different from regular earplugs, discussed above.
This technology protects the wearer from high noise environments while allowing communication without the use of a boom microphone. They also provide for general situational awareness and face-to-face communication.
Soundproof earplugs like these provide continual stimulation for your auditory system and therefore reduce the risk of misophonia and are especially useful in occupations which require the use of masks or respirators.
The other type of Hearing Protection Device is the soundproof headphones. This is essentially an umbrella term for all industrial noise cancelling and noise suppressing ear-muff-styled headsets which cup closely around the ear.
When the technology included in soundproof headphones to soundproof earplugs are the same, then the benefits they offer are very similar. The decision essentially comes down to personal preference and practical suitability.
In an industrial context, sound blocking, (or sound blocking headphones) refers to the use of hearing protection devices with noise cancellation or noise suppression technology. These noise reduction headphones protect workers from exposure to a high-noise environment that presents an occupational hazard.
In many cases, this includes the wearing of noise reduction headsets. Many of these devices have historically reduced the noise reaching the ear by means of passive noise-cancelling technology. This basically reduced noise levels through insulation and a tight fit design.
As technology progressed, active noise-cancelling was developed, which provided a more effective solution to hearing protection. This analog technology functions by identifying the sound coming towards the headset, and generating signals in response which are ‘out-of-phase’ with the offending signals, cancelling them out.
This allows any sounds generated within the active noise cancelling headphones to be understood more clearly. Unfortunately, this can also isolate the wearer from sounds that would make them aware of hazardous conditions in their surroundings. With SENS technology (speech enhancement noise suppression), the wearer is provided with effective protection, without the same isolation from their surroundings.
Today, major advances have been made in the area of noise suppression, as opposed to the older noise cancellation technology. These improvements provide for more effective communication and situational awareness while still protecting the wearer’s hearing.
Modern headsets can be integrated with two-way radio, Bluetooth-enabled devices, and headset-to-headset communication abilities.
Sensear has raised the bar when it comes to hearing protection.
Our revolutionary SENS™ Technology (Speech Enhancement, Noise Suppression) isolates and elevates speech above the background noise while suppressing dangerous background noises to a safer level (82dB).
SENS™ Technology adds a filtration system, which uses digital signal processing to isolate specific desirable sounds like speech and adjust the algorithm to enhance it.
This provides crystal clear sound for the wearer, even in the noisiest environments. The receiver on the other end of the communication also experiences the same sound quality as in the headset, while background sounds are filtered out of the entire communication process.
SENS™ Technology allows for the customization of a headset to a specific environment.
To find out more, speak to a high noise specialist today.
Active noise cancelling headsets are fine for use on airplanes or in an office to reduce background noise because the wearer is typically idle, has less of a need to talk to others and is generally not at risk of physical danger.
However, people working in an industrial workplace, such as a warehouse or manufacturing plant, have different sound protection and communication needs.
Noise reducing headphones for these kinds of workplace environments usually require hearing protection devices such as safety ear muffs or safety ear plugs.
If communication is critical to your work environment, consider the clarity of a SENS™ enhanced communication headset; your team won’t miss a call or conversation due to a noisy environment again.
With SENS™ Technology, the wearer receives three critical benefits - hearing protection, 360º situational awareness, and the ability to communicate effectively in a high noise situation.
Several types of headset devices may be applicable for protecting those exposed to extreme noise levels, including:
Each of these headsets can provide hearing protection while permitting face-to-face communication and allowing self-awareness of the surrounding environment.
These devices are available in several configurations including headband, helmet mount, and behind the neck. Your particular work environment and communication needs will determine the best headset for each application.
For more information, download the noise reducing headphones comparison chart here.
Selecting the ideal industrial noise reduction headsets for your team is an important decision.
You want to provide adequate hearing protection which optimises productivity, while allowing for effective communication and 360 degree situational awareness.
So if you are looking for the best high-noise communication devices for your workplace, don’t ask for Noise Cancelling - ask for Sensear SENS™ Technology by Sensear.
Find out more here, or contact us to request a quote today.
We can have your team outfitted and ready to go in no time.
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