Have you ever wondered what the loudest work environment is? According to a 2018 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting industries are among the most hazardous for high noise and hearing loss, with the Forestry and Logging industry as the most pervasive. Workers exposed to high noise in the Forestry and Logging industry have “a higher percentage of hearing loss (21%) than all other noise-exposed industries combined (19%)” (CDC, 2018).

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There have been many advancements in hearing protection and communication technology, and probably the most well-known is active noise-canceling technology. As pointed out here, active noise-cancellation “cancels” or blocks out almost all noise coming into the headset. This causes an issue in many work environments where workers need situational awareness to prevent workplace accidents and keep them aware of potential hazards. The alternative to active noise-cancellation is noise suppression. What are the differences between these two technologies?

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When working in hazardous or high-noise-level conditions, it is important to have the right hearing protection. In many cases, this indicates wearing a headset or earmuff hearing protection device (HPD) with active noise-canceling technology. This analog technology functions by detecting the sound coming into the headset generates signals that are out-of-phase with the offending signals and then cancels them out. This allows any sounds generated within the headset to be understood more clearly (music, radio communications, etc.). Unfortunately, these active noise-canceling headsets have attributes that are problematic.

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Noise in the modern workplace is a well-known hazard with firm laws and guidelines in the United States, Australia and many other countries throughout the world to ensure employees have some degree of protection.

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