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News in full
03/10/2013

  SonoKlara® SK200V is selected 2013 finalist in the Communications category for ITE (Institution of Engineering and Technology) Innovation Award.
  SonoKlara® SK200V is shortlisted for 2013 British Engineering Excellence Awards in the category of Electronic Product of the Year.
  SonoKlara® SK200V is endorsed by Acoustic Safety Program as the device that meets the highest standards of acoustic safety, functionality and voice intelligibility.
Click here for full details


01/11/2011

ASP endorse new Acoustic Safety Headset/Amplifier solution

As an independent testing organisation we endorse only those products that meet the highest standards* of safety, functionality and voice intelligibility performance. One of our Organisation's key objectives over the past 6 years has been to research the causes and effects of Acoustic Shock and work with Government, Unions and Industry to find an affordable solution to guarantee as much as possible the protection of call centre workers hearing and in particular prevent the onset of symptoms associated with Acoustic Shock that are caused by certain types of noise interference and acoustic incidents (see ASP's National Definitions of Acoustic Shock). From 2006 to 2008 we joined forces with the National Physical Laboratory to build test suites to our specification to test amplifier/headset solutions safety and average daily noise exposure performance. Although many products at the time and since have delivered a certain level of safety improvement, none met the standards we were looking for; to guarantee protection from all known acoustic incidents that can cause Acoustic Shock whilst maintaining a high level of Voice Intelligibility and Comfort listening. Over the past year, having again considered both laboratory and field test results of leading call centre headsets and amplifiers, we are proud to endorse two manufacturer's products that best meet these standards as a bundled solution, namely Jabra BIZ™ 2400 or GN2000 headset with the ElaraTek SK200 SonoKlara amplifier, which provide the highest degree of hearing conservation, call clarity and design and build quality worthy of the ASP endorsement. To read more about the ASP Headset/Amplifier recommendation and the products themselves please go to our Equipment Solutions site.

*ASP Telecommunications Equipment Standards:
(Copyright 2009-2011, ASP Research Partnership)

1. Protection from noise incidents at any SPL level that could cause symptoms of acoustic shock; compliance with the average daily noise exposure allowances stipulated in the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (for the UK) and the Physical Agents (Noise) Directive 2003/10/EC (for the EU).
2. Clear and audible Voice intelligibility that allows easy comfort listening for a minimum of 8 hours per day.
3. Ergonomic, innovative and lightweight product design and functionality that allows comfortable and practical usage for a minimum of 8 hours per day.
4. Quality robust materials and product build that offer a minimum fair ware and tear 2 year manufacturers warranty.

NHS Trust Hospital call centre implements 'Sound Safety' hearing conservation training

The Acoustic Safety Programme (ASP) has followed its success with NHS Direct Wales by providing an English NHS Trust Hospital with its Award Winning 'Sound Safety' e-learning course. The training covers various aspects of hearing health for call centre workers including: how the ear works and its physical reaction to noise; personal ear hygiene and care as well as how to protect one's hearing both at home and at work; proper use of telecommunications equipment; noise exposure regulations and specific injury risks and symptoms associated with noise exposure such as Noise Induced Hearing Loss and Acoustic Shock, and; risk mitigation and Health & Safety policy. ASP is proud to have been chosen to provide this Hospital's call centre staff with a role-specific yet clinically based learning programme, which clearly demonstrates how medical professionals value our specialist knowledge in this field. We urge other NHS Trust Hospitals to consider this example of good Health & Safety practice and contact ASP for details of the 'Sound Safety' course.

NHS Trust Hospital call centre implements 'Sound Safety' hearing conservation training

The Acoustic Safety Programme (ASP) has followed its success with NHS Direct Wales by providing an English NHS Trust Hospital with its Award Winning 'Sound Safety' e-learning course. The training covers various aspects of hearing health for call centre workers including: how the ear works and its physical reaction to noise; personal ear hygiene and care as well as how to protect one's hearing both at home and at work; proper use of telecommunications equipment; noise exposure regulations and specific injury risks and symptoms associated with noise exposure such as Noise Induced Hearing Loss and Acoustic Shock, and; risk mitigation and Health & Safety policy. ASP is proud to have been chosen to provide this Hospital's call centre staff with a role-specific yet clinically based learning programme, which clearly demonstrates how medical professionals value our specialist knowledge in this field. We urge other NHS Trust Hospitals to consider this example of good Health & Safety practice and contact ASP for details of the 'Sound Safety' course.

Is the challenge on the ‘physical aspects’ of Acoustic Shock by a major UK employer a cynical attempt to avoid liability?

According to our sources a major UK employer who has had many acoustic shock injury cases, some this year, is challenging the 'physical aspects' of the injury. We ask, is this a cynical attempt to avoid liability? In this news story we examine this debate and again provide valuable information to employers from the World’s leading health & safety, clinical and occupational health experts in the field. Read this entire article and those below in the News section on our website, click here…(more)


ASP launch new Telecom Infrastructure Testing Service

ASP Consulting has launched a new specialised telecom systems testing service for call centres and office communications infrastructures. The new service is designed to... (more)


Telefónica O2 UK endorse ASP’s new Telecom Infrastructure Testing Service

“Telefónica O2 UK prides itself in high management standards for health and safety, in order to protect its employees and improve the service we offer to our customers. To maintain these high standards we are constantly looking for improvements for our safe working practices and the technology we use to support both the needs of our customers and our employees...ASP have been able to deliver ground breaking solutions by developing an acoustic engineering based service to provide a highly advanced communication infrastructure monitoring and research service…” (more)


O2 is fully committed to the health and safety of its employees and over the last few years we have focused on a variety of new initiatives

Here at O2 we recognise that to operate award winning customer service and support centres across the UK it is imperative to provide and maintain a safe and healthy working environment. One of these initiatives has been to implement a hearing conservation programme across all our call centres...(more)


21/09/2010
Is the challenge on the ‘physical aspects’ of Acoustic Shock by a major UK employer a cynical attempt to avoid liability?

According to our sources a major UK employer who has had many acoustic shock injury cases, some this year, is challenging the 'physical aspects' of the injury. We ask, is this a cynical attempt to avoid liability?

Apart from the fact that this challenge is without merit as the known symptoms of acoustic shock are psychological, what matters is the presence of a foreseeable injury where the employer has failed to take reasonable steps to obviate the risk. Acoustic Shock has been a foreseeable injury since 1998 and more prominently since Lord Hunt, then Minister for Health & Safety and Permanent Secretary for the Department for Work and Pensions, launched the Acoustic Safety National Conference in 2005. An injury does not have to be physical to provide a basis for litigation (see PTSD). The requirement is to show harm, and that the employer has been negligent (unless the claim is made under the employer's obligations under PUWER). Employers must bear in mind that the HSE is not a source of authoritative advice on the existence or otherwise of medical conditions, although the 2006 statement by Robert Vaughan, HSE Noise and Vibration Programme Manager, is quite clear:

"…(telephone) operators should be trained to recognise such incidents and how to report them. Employers have a duty under RIDDOR to report work-related injuries... organisations that operate call centres should follow this advice and keep up to date with developments in this field."

Click here and scroll down for the full statement.

Despite this guidance the vast majority of companies still fail to train their staff or report the injury as acoustic shock. This is perhaps a matter for the HSE to investigate and clearly more enforcement of RIDDOR is necessary as only 37 of approx’ 800 cases have been reported.

Cynical as it may be, our experience suggests that the majority of companies operating call centres, particularly those with past acoustic shock cases, willingly or ignorantly allow their staff to be at risk of this injury as they deem it the cheaper alternative to the solutions available to mitigate the risk. However, with more than £10million in associated costs to date, the highest settlement of which being £137,000 reached in February 2010, companies may soon consider it more cost effective to protect their staff than to compensate for injury, the moral issue aside.

There is also a simple economic argument for better noise control: poor noise control = low employee performance = lower customer satisfaction = less profit. We urge employers to look at the list of symptoms that can be caused by acoustic incidents, some as common as headaches, and ask themselves; do we really understand this and how it affects our business? The National Definition below presents what is proven and known very clearly.

We would like to again provide the necessary information to help companies accept the reality of acoustic shock, the life changing impact it can have on those employees affected as well as the financial risk it poses to a business. Please click on the various links below:

The National Definitions of acoustic shock in telephone and headset users (PDF)

The Journal of Laryngology & Otology (2007) - Acoustic Shock. D J McFerran MA FRCS and Dr D M Baguley MSc MBA PhD

The British Society for Audiology (2010) - Acoustic Shock. D J McFerran MA FRCS

Audiology Online (2002) - Acoustic Shock Injury: Real or Imaginary? Janice C. Milhinch PhD

We would encourage any company with a concern about their noise policies and practices (inc’ daily exposure, noise interference, base line noise, acoustic incidents, reporting, occupational health, training, etc) to contact ASP. We are here to help employers before noise becomes a serious risk to your staff and business. If it is already a factor within your organisation and you have had injuries as a result of noise we can help you understand the problem, perhaps even the cause, consider measures to reduce the risk and perhaps prevent it. Please email us at: info@acousticsafety.org



10/07/2010
ASP launch new Telecom Infrastructure Testing Service

ASP Consultinghas launched a new specialised telecom systems testing service for call centres and office communications infrastructures. The new service is designed to determine the source of acoustic incidents and noise interference within telecommunications infrastructures as well as establish the real characteristics and levels of noise exposure from regular and long-term telephone usage.

Telefónica O2 UK Ltd has endorsed this new solution and we are proud to release their statement below:

Telefónica O2 UK endorse ASP’s new Telecom Infrastructure Testing Service – 6th April 2010

“Telefónica O2 UK prides itself in high management standards for health and safety, in order to protect its employees and improve the service we offer to our customers. To maintain these high standards we are constantly looking for improvements for our safe working practices and the technology we use to support both the needs of our customers and our employees. In this regard, we have been delighted to further develop our relationship with the Acoustic Safety Programme. Having already delivered the UK’s most advanced Hearing Safety training for our call centre employees, we recently engaged ASP again to conduct a complete review of our noise exposure, policy and practices. The result of this review has, we believe, confirmed our market leading position in hearing conservation practices and also highlighted a couple of areas where we had an opportunity to make further improvements within one of our principal call centres. Utilising the cost-effective solutions advised by ASP, we have ensured that we have minimised the risk to our people, improved the customer experience and ensured our continued compliance with all relative legislation.

ASP have been able to deliver these ground breaking solutions by engaging specialist digital sound processing engineers to develop cutting edge technology in order to provide a highly advanced communication infrastructure monitoring and research service. ASP is already one of the World’s leading centres of health and safety expertise in respect of occupational exposure to telephone noise and is now able to support that information pool with advanced technology solutions to assist employers in their responsibility to employee health and well-being. The by-product of these improvements is equally as important: improved employee performance and customer satisfaction. Chris Jacobs, Health and Safety manager for Telefónica O2 UK stated that he is proud to endorse the specialist work that ASP Consulting provide and would recommend them to any Company considering improving their hearing conservation practices.”



10/02/2010
O2 is fully committed to the health and safety of its employees and over the last few years we have focused on a variety of new initiatives

Here at O2 we work hard to provide our people with the best in work space design, proven technology and personal support. We recognise that to operate award winning customer service and support centres across the UK it is imperative to provide and maintain a safe and healthy working environment. One of these initiatives has been to implement a hearing conservation programme across all our call centres. This has been achieved implementing a version of the 'Sound Safety II' e-learning training course developed by the World's leading specialist hearing health and safety organisation, the Acoustic Safety Programme. The course is available to all UK employees via our internal learning management system and ensures that all our call centre advisers have the most thorough hearing conservation support possible, helping us meet the HSE's acoustic safety guidelines and the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.

Chris Jacobs, Head of Health Safety and the Environment O2 (UK)

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