“Situational awareness” describes an alertness to and an understanding of hazards in your environment, and whether they pose a threat to your health and safety. More simply, keeping your head on a swivel can keep you safe.
Picture a flagger directing traffic in a busy work zone. Or a crane operator relying on hand signals from a spotter to position a 20-ton load. How about the production worker monitoring a fast-moving line? All of these jobs require focus and concentration to maintain safety.
Why situational awareness is important
We’ve talked before about how to avoid struck-by and back-over incidents. Those are clear examples of the value of situational awareness in the work zone. Hearing a vehicle’s back-up signal before it’s too close – especially when you’re focused on your own task – lets you to take action to maintain a safe distance and avoid a potential incident.
In addition, situational awareness involves recognizing the threats faced by your coworkers. In a post about road crew safety, I shared the story of a cone truck driver and his partner who accidentally fell from the truck. Unaware of the incident, the driver continued on his route for nearly two miles before discovering his partner was no longer aboard.
Add the challenges of extreme noise and bad sight lines, and you have situations where knowing what’s going on around you is absolutely essential to maintain a safe and productive job site.
Isolation is the enemy
We know occupational noise exposure is a problem. However, traditional earplugs and earmuffs block out all noise. They don’t distinguish between sounds that threaten your hearing, your coworker’s raised voice, or an alarm beeping on a console. Everything is muted.
As a result, workers experience a sense of isolation when wearing earplugs or earmuffs. It’s uncomfortable. So much so that they may refuse to wear hearing protectors in order maintain or improve situational awareness.
The conflict between situational awareness and safety is obvious. You must protect your hearing, but covering your ears makes it difficult or impossible to hear colleagues, equipment and warnings.
Using Listen-Through Technology to improve situational awareness
Sonetics developed its Listen-Through Technology for our wireless team communication headsets in response to our customers’ chief complaint about wearing traditional hearing protection: “I can’t hear anything!” Listen-Through Technology gives workers back control of their audio environment in three key ways:
- End the Isolation – Microphones on each ear dome of a Sonetics Wireless Headset let you hear your coworkers and equipment. No need to remove your hearing protection; no losing communication with your crew.
- Awareness on Demand – You decide when to open up those Listen-Through microphones and add back environmental sound. Toggle Listen-Through on or off with a quick button press on the headset.
- Fully Adjustable Volume – Since no two workers or work environments are the same, Sonetics Listen-Through Technology is fully adjustable with six volume levels. Mix in just the right amount of outside sound that you need.
You shouldn’t have to compromise your safety or your long-term health just to have a conversation with your team. Listen-Through Technology lets you take control of who and what you need to hear to improve your situational awareness.