Protection, productivity and passion: How headsets help on hazardous industrial sites

Here, we look at how 3M's PELTOR headsets provide safety, productivity, comfort and even entertainment for workers on noisy sites.

Industrial sites can be full of potential danger, from the perils of working at height, to the threat of respiratory complaints, to electrical hazards.

Repetitive and excessive noise, however, is arguably the most persistent danger on busy industrial sites; it can cause long-term hearing problems and be a dangerous distraction, the cause of accidents. So it’s imperative your business takes the necessary measures to address this issue.

Controlling noise is a legal requirement too, and you must be mindful of regulations. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations Act 2005 requires businesses to eliminate or reduce risks to health and safety from noise at work. And with an upturn in noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) litigation claims, SMEs should look to safeguard themselves and their employees.

High levels of noise aren’t just a potential threat to health in this setting, they can also hit productivity – and productivity levels are already under scrutiny in today’s business scene. The ability to communicate regularly onsite is essential within all industries, and if workers need to withdraw from noisy areas every time they want to have a conversation, then you can see how much time will be lost over the course of a big project.

Sweden’s Lund University has found that the use of two-way radio communication headsets can improve the productivity of a work unit by 380 minutes per week, increasing productivity from 71 per cent to over 86 per cent. Below, we look at why, in addition to the safety features, this is a useful perk for your business to consider. 

3M™ PELTOR™ FM Radio ear defenders

Workers wear PELTOR FM Radio ear defenders for many reasons. The headsets offer a technically advanced, comfortable and attractive option which, most importantly, can deliver safety and productivity benefits to a workplace. They are sealed against noise by foam cushioning, featuring an adjustable headband for a strong seal and safety is assured with a CE approval. In addition, they have a built-in FM radio which lets you choose the tunes. 

The radio feature is suited to the smaller SME worker, ensuring workers can be motivated and entertained while at the same time protecting their hearing from potentially dangerous noise levels on site, without the need for an expensive PRS License.

Upgraded versions of the radio such as the 3M™ PELTOR™ FM Alert allow for situational awareness so not all sound is blocked out, and is played back at a safe rate level allowing the worker to be aware of trucks reversing behind or warning calls.

The 3M™ PELTOR™ WS™ WS Alert XP headset, another version, is a very strong product in mainland Europe popular choice among small jobbing builders and handymen. Typically the product is put on at the start of the day to protect workers’ hearing. They then typically stream music through the device, plus with the addition of bluetooth they can be informed, while still wearing the headphones, of incoming calls. The USP: never miss a call again. but with the addition of Bluetooth they are able to take handsfree calls without interrupting their hearing protection.

3M™ PELTOR™ LiteCom™ ear defenders

Like the PELTOR FM Radio ear defender model, the LiteCom option is sealed against noise by foam cushioning, and has been rigourously tested. But LiteCom offers hearing protection PLUS excellence in communication, offering hands-free with a distance of up to 1,000 metres. It allows for easy communication in tasks such as loading, banksmen, and supervision.

What does this mean in practice? Well, no more need for flags or hand signals or for lifting up existing static headphones to understand a message being shouted across the site, which ultimately exposes the user to damage. The LiteCom model has a built in two-way radio with eight-channel selection, making communication with colleagues a breeze.

The benefits of this apparatus have been proven in the Lund University study. The PELTOR WS LiteCom Headset was included in the research, which featured two observations on two separate teams, one equipped with PELTOR WS LiteCom Headset and one without.

Each team performed tasks such as earth excavation, pipe laying and tube welding. The study recorded the time individuals spent on direct work and downtime. Any activity that added value to the project was defined as direct work, whereas downtime was categorised as that during which no direct work was performed, for instance time spent walking across site or conversing with co-workers.

The results of the study showed that downtime during observation one (without headsets) came to a total of 590 minutes for the team. During observation two, the study with headsets, just 320 minutes of downtime were recorded across the team. Detailed follow-up interviews revealed the main advantage for workers was being able to quickly relay and receive messages on the job.

The study concluded that PELTOR WS LiteCom Headsets improved the productivity of a work unit by 380 minutes per week – an increase in productive time from 71 per cent to over 86 per cent. The headsets solve the two critical problems of noisy environments; providing hearing protection and enabling effective communication.

Speaking to Arbetarskydd, a Swedish occupational safety news website, Fredrik Greén, production manager at Skanska, said of the devices, ‘Everyone can hear what’s going on, which also makes logistics easier. The increase in efficiency is so great that we recover the higher costs fairly fast.’

A ringing endorsement, it seems, for a premier safety product in the sector.

This is a sponsored article from 3M.

Further reading on health and safety

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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