Social distancing, a relatively new term in our vocabulary, refers to the practice of deliberately increasing the physical space between people to prevent the spread of illness. The global pandemic of COVID-19 has brought the concept of social distancing into all of our lives and workplaces as we endure this worldwide crisis and adapt to our new way of life.
As we come to grips with the current health crisis, its implications and the measure required to battle the virus and flatten the curve, the practice of social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus looks set to stay. However, for many generations of workers, young and old, this new normal is nothing but the norm.
We are creatures of habit, and the concept of keeping our distance from one another and interacting from a distance is against human nature in many societies around the globe, one that is difficult to grasp. As a result, it is now commonplace in everything from shops and restaurants to factories, offices and worksites to see signage and markings that serve to prompt and reinforce social distancing guidelines for the safety of all in the community, be they customers, visitors or workers.
Lockdowns, shutdowns, restrictions, it’s no longer business as usual. All persons conducting a business or undertaking must play their part to help stop the spread of the disease. The big challenge for business continuity, when all is said and done, is adapting their operations to help workers manage the required distance to curb the risk of infections. Every construction, industrial or commercial operation is different. Maintaining a physical distance may be possible for some sites and tasks, whereas on others, particularly larger and noisier locations, the nature of the environment can make this extremely challenging. In addition to everyday precautions in the prevention of COVID-19, there are many procedures that can be implemented in these industries to reduce the risk of exposure. For example, wearing appropriate PPE, not congregating in groups of more than two when on breaks or when leaving or entering the site and disinfecting shared equipment between use, to mention just a few. But most importantly, keeping space between workers is one of the best measures to avoid exposure to the virus and minimise its transmission.
The problem with most sites, however, particularly construction and industrial sites is the noise factor and how it affects communication between workers. In busy or noisy workplaces, particularly industrial settings, effective communication is critical when it comes to worker safety. If you work in a loud environment and require the use of hearing protection, then you likely struggle with communication. When it comes to this form of PPE, the main objection is that it interferes with the ability to hear speech as well as other important sounds. Trying to understand and converse with co-workers in noisy surroundings requires extra concentration and strain. Messages and instructions can be misunderstood, and warning signals or shouts drowned out, creating confusion and a host of safety concerns resulting in potential workplace accidents and injuries. As a result, the most common and natural thing to do is lift your earmuffs and move closer to the person. In doing so, you are not only exposed to the dangerous noise levels you are trying to filter out and the inherent risk of noise-induced hearing loss; but under our current pandemic, you are also opening yourself up to the hazard of transmitting or contracting COVID-19 due to the need to contravene physical distancing guidelines. In these scenarios, the chance of releasing droplets and airborne transmission increases as you need to get face to face, move closer to each other or shout to communicate effectively.
Who would have thought that the simple art of communication could actually pose a serious health and safety risk in the workplace? As many offices turn to technology to effectively interact and conduct their operations remotely during this crisis, so to can those essential workers who need to communicate in industrial and commercial environments through this pandemic.
3M™ PELTOR™ technology can help workers communicate at a safe distance. 3M™ PELTOR™ communication hearing products help maintain connectivity between workers while keeping distance between them in noisy environments. Some of this technology includes:
Active listening microphones on the headset means you are always aware of your surroundings.
This gives the user the ability to amplify face-to-face conversation in a noisy environment.
Bluetooth connectivity to a mobile device or a compatible communication radio.
Provides wireless connection for workers who need to communicate at a worksite
Our 3M Peltor LiteCom range come equipped with 2-way radios built into the headsets.
This means there is no need for the user to carry a separate 2-way radio for those operating in a radio network.
Hands-free communication allows the user to speak through the radio without the need to press a button.
Transmission using the user’s voice means less touching of equipment.
3M™ PELTOR™ smart hearing range provides wireless, hands-free communications at a safe distance to help maintain production and operations, all while protecting your hearing. The table below outlines a selection of solutions to hear and communicate effectively for workers who need to work from a distance.
|Solutions||Situational awareness||Bluetooth®||Voice activated microphone||In-built
|3M™ PELTOR™ EEP100 Electronic Earplug
Compact smart hearing
|3M™ PELTOR™ ProTac™ III Headset
Just what you want to hear
|3M™ PELTOR™ X Series Bluetooth Accessory
Stay on the zone while on the phone
|3M™ PELTOR™ WS™ Alert™ XPI Headset
Mobile communications hub on the go
|3M™ Peltor™ WS ProTac XPI Headset
Hands free connectivity
|3M™ PELTOR™ LiteCom™ Series Headset
The ultimate in hearing protection
Need help with protective communication solutions to help you meet the current social distancing guidelines for your environment? Reach out to a 3M Safety Specialist for more information. We are here to help you find the correct product during these challenging times.