Communication on a construction worksite is vital not only to getting the job done, but getting it done safely. With construction sites known for being loud places, talking with other coworkers isn’t easy, making more companies look to wireless headsets as a solution.
“Technology advances make headsets easier to use than ever before,” says Matt Cannell, director of marketing for Sonetics Wireless Headsets. Sonetics uses a proprietary DECT7 wireless technology in its headsets providing users with clear audio that is full-duplex, which means workers can talk to each other as if they were on a conference call.
“There are no buttons to push; just put on the headsets and talk to each other,” he says, adding that the headsets pair to a wireless base station. Each station has five headsets and users can have five separate channels on the base so they can have secure conversations as needed. “It’s completely secure and encrypted so users can trust that they won’t be picking up frequencies from other technologies and they won’t be overheard on someone else’s channel.”
SAFETY AND PRODUCTIVITY
Cannell says worksite communication is vital for both safety and for worker productivity.
“The No. 1 factor for on-the-job accidents is communication breakdown. When you’ve got multiple bodies on a jobsite and heavy equipment or operations that require precision and attention, a user can’t afford to miss hearing instructions, signals, or warnings,” he says. “But when instructions are missed, not only are risks increased, but productivity goes down because either you have to stop what you’re doing to make sure the crew hears you over the equipment or mistakes are made and you have to correct course operations resulting in duplicate efforts and slips in schedules.”
Before headsets became common tools on construction sites, most crews used hand signals or shouting to communicate with each other. These methods weren’t the most reliable and instructions weren’t always clearly interpreted, which is a huge issue if individuals need to react quickly in a safety situation, says Cannell.
“Another big benefit is stress relief. When crews are shouting or trying to interpret hand signals, if things don’t happen quite as intended, frustration and stress go up,” he says. “When the ‘all-stop’ is called, when the headsets are on, everyone hears it. This sometimes can be a matter of seconds to react or someone could get injured or even killed.”
Headsets not only help improve communication, they can also protect workers’ ears from construction site noise. The many pieces of construction equipment on jobsites combine to create significant noise volume levels, which over time can lead to hearing loss.
Sonetics’ headsets include 20 decibels of hearing protection and include automated noise suppression, which means if an employee is standing next to a loud piece of equipment, the noise will be cancelled out and the user will just hear what other members of the crew are saying. The headsets also include listen-through technology, which allows users to let in the right amount of environmental noise, Cannell says.
“If users need to hear equipment warnings, signals, or even traffic, they are not cut-off from their surroundings. This is critical for users who deal with traffic or highly dynamic environments where situational awareness cannot be sacrificed,” he says.
Loud noises can also be stressful on the body and by lowering the sound levels, Cannell says it makes the worksite less hectic.
“We keep folks in clear communication at all times, lower the loud noises, remove the need for shouting, and the job environment suddenly gets more calm, more productive, and more enjoyable,” he says.
WORK AND TALK AT SAME TIME
Wireless headsets are also replacing another construction site staple—two-way radios. Cannell says the headsets allow workers to talk and work at the same time.
“A lot of guys and gals depend on two-way radios on the jobsite, but the challenge is either they can’t hear the radio when it’s clipped to their vest, or when they do hear it, they have to push a button to communicate back,” he says. “That’s tough when your hands are tied trying to work or operate equipment. The headsets have no buttons to push, no interruptions.”
That last piece is essential since if two workers push the button a two-way radio to communicate at the same time, they can lock out the channel.
“That means nothing gets communicated and if that’s when there’s an all-stop that happens, it can be a real challenge,” Cannell says.
Workers can also integrate their portable radios with their headsets or add in Bluetooth technology so they can connect to cell phones or listen to music while working. The headset works just like any Bluetooth device—as a call comes in, the user is prompted and can push a button to take the call. During the call, the worker is locked out of the wireless conversation so it’s kept private, Cannell says.
“When the call is done, they push that same button again, hang up the phone, and they’re back live in the conversation with the headsets,” he says.
The standard Sonetics headset works for 24 hours and can be charged from zero percent to full strength in just 4 hours.
When it comes to the headsets’ range, they typically work up to 1,600 feet, Cannell says.
“If users need more range or want to integrate their portable radios—they can plug those in to the comhub or headset and push-to-talk over the radio. This gives users who need more range an easy way to go further,” he says.
For workers who just want a personal headset and don’t need or want a mic boom for talking, there is a style available that provides the high level of hearing protection with the listen-through technology, Cannell says. ■
About the Author: For more information about Sonetics’ headsets, visit www.soneticscorp.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions – May 2016
Did you enjoy this article?
Subscribe to the FREE Digital Edition of Modern Contractor Solutions magazine.