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The Information Centre for Occupational Hearing Conservation

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Research and testing

The ASP Research Partnership is pleased to announce the completion and release of the UK's first "National Definitions of Acoustic Shock in Telephone and Headset Users" supported by Government, Industry and Unions. This definition is based upon currently available evidence and has been studied, authored and approved by a leading body of medical, scientific and engineering experts in the field of acoustics working together on the ASP Research Advisory Board (which you can see below).

Please click here to download a copy.


The Acoustic Safety Programme (ASP) has created the UK's first research and testing organisation focusing specifically on health & safety risks associated with exposure to noise via telephone systems. ASP engages the specialised services of World leading organisations in fields applicable to our research and testing, such as the National Physical Laboratory, the UK’s Health and Safety Laboratory, the National Acoustics Laboratory and Milhinch Audiology of Australia. Predominantly we look at the effects of long-term exposure to noise through telephones as part of a person's working life. The research work commenced in the call centre environment and will take in other industry sectors where noise is an issue, such as pubs and clubs, sports and music events. This research is based on the monitoring and recording of acoustic signals and interference experienced by call centre operators (CSRs) during their working day and the resulting effects and is carried out by our acoustic engineers and medical experts. We have also funded and developed a unique set of testing suites for telephony equipment which allow us to test headsets, amplifies and sound management devices commonly in use in call centres today, which is carried out by the National Physical Laboratory.

The work we carry out in research and testing has long been supported by the Dti, now the DIUS, the Communication Workers Union and PCS Union, as well as the Call Centre Management Association and many major industry employers such as T-Mobile, BT, O2 and Scottish Power.
The research partnership was launched in 2005 by Lord Hunt, Minister for Health & Safety and Permanent Under Secretary for the DWP, at the Acoustic Safety Conference and focuses on the following campaigns:

  • The first 'National Definitions of Acoustic Shock', its psychological and physiological symptoms and any possible mitigating solutions
  • A qualified and impartial test of the protective and sound quality capabilities of telephony equipment and personal sound delivery systems leading to the publication of a Government and Union endorsed 'Independent Telephony Equipment Report'
  • A widespread National study into the cause and effect of noise interference and acoustic shock occurring via telephone systems, leading to a 'National Acoustic Safety Study Report' for the consideration of technology, health and legislative measures
  • Technology development to further the protection of telephone users from symptoms of acoustic shock such as: Tinnitus, Hyperacusis and Dysacusis.

Contributors to the ASP Research work are;

    • Dr Andrew Graham-Cumming, Chairman, MBBS MFOM, Medical Director, ASP - Occupational Health and Safety Services, Consultant Occupational Physician
    • Dr Richard Barham, Principal Research Scientist, National Physical Laboratory
    • Dr David Baguley, Head of Audiology Addenbrooke's Hospital Cambridge
    • Keith Broughton, BA NOIA AssMI MinE IEng, Health & Safety Director, Acoustic Safety Programme, Board Member of the Institute of Acoustics
    • Dr Michael Fisher, Head of Acoustics, National Acoustics Laboratories, Australia
    • Dr Laurence McKenna, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Adult Auditory Rehabilitation
    • Don McFerran, Consultant ENT Surgeon, Colchester Hospital, Essex and Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Centre, London
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