When working in a hazardous plant or work environment, you often hear that you need to be aware of your surroundings or to be risk-averse. But what does this mean and how does one accomplish situational awareness? According to OSHA, situational awareness is “knowing what is going on all around you by having the ability to identify, process, comprehend, and respond to critical elements of information regarding the environment in which you are located.” Let’s break that down.

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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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Those that are not privy to the world of hearing protection and smart earmuffs may never have heard of  the term “Digital Signal Processing.” Digital Signal Processing or DSP is only used by premium headset companies such as Sensear to create a safe experience in loud-noise work environments, and it is a crucial element of a good industrial headset.
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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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Permanent Hearing Damage

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 125,000 workers each year end up with permanent hearing damage because of workplace noise.

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Industrial noise suppression headsets are different from standard noise reduction muffs as well as active noise cancelling headphones, the latter of which are often used on public transportation or within offices when you want to cancel out background noise and listen to music.

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Workplace hearing protection programs typically focus on individuals with normal hearing. But what about workers who already suffer from some level of hearing loss?  Even in quiet environments, workers with hearing loss face a number of challenges, including difficulty communicating with colleagues and problems with differentiating important sounds above background noises.

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