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February 16, 2018

Industry study determines broadband sound top reversing safety solution

A new study on industrial accident prevention has shown that broadband sound reversing alarms are nearly twice as effective than their tonal equivalents; making broadband sound the most effective audible reversing safety solution.

The study, titled ‘Perceptions of Key Stakeholders Regarding the Utilization of Locatable Sound for the Prevention of Occupational Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities’ was conducted by Dr Rick Kilpatrick at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s College of Health & Human Services, and is the first scientific study of broadband sound in the workplace.

The quantitative research was undertaken to examine the perceptions of steel industry employees, in order to determine if the use of broadband sound reversing alarms improved workplace safety – compared to traditional tonal sound alarms – across a range of criteria: audibility, propagation, frequency content, and sound pressure maps.

The survey population consisted of 1,211 steel industry employees – occupational pedestrians, forklift operators, leadership and maintenance – working across fifty-five locations of a North American steel company that had been using broadband sound reversing alarms for the last two years.


Broadband: nearly two thirds more effective than tonal alarms

When respondents were presented with eight beneficial reversing alarm traits1, broadband reversing alarms were selected by 61% of respondents as having more of these qualities, compared to the 33% of respondents who selected tonal reversing alarms (6% selected neither or both).

“Tonal alarms are common solutions to reversing compliance,” said Henry Morgan, CEO of Brigade Electronics Canada, a leader in manoeuvring safety solutions. “But they are non-directional, less safe and create significant noise pollution. Broadband sound mitigates all of the nuisances and dangers associated with tonal alarms, and, as Rick’s research shows, is even more effective.”

“There was undoubtedly a strong correlation between how familiar the respondents were with both types of alarm and the benefits of broadband sound,” said Dr Kilpatrick. “However, it’s clear that a more widespread rollout of broadband alarms would create greater familiarity and increase the overall benefit. There’s still lots that needs to be done to formally prove its overall effectiveness; in different workplace and civil environments.”

While this study provides the unique perspective of key stakeholders in an uncontrolled study group, the hope is that the research will serve as a reference point and empirical data for future reversing alarm analysis and research.

Dr Kilpatrick is also keen to conduct further research on broadband sound, and is particularly keen to explore its use with hearing impaired communities, the ability to localize the sound based on differing background noise levels, and on forward motion vehicles; to better understand if broadband alarms have an wider safety impact.

To find out more about broadband sound backup alarms, visit Brigade Electronics’ website.


About Brigade

Brigade Electronics (Canada) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Brigade Electronics plc, the market leader in backing safety systems. Established in 1976, it is the only company in the world to provide a complete range of backing safety systems. The range includes BACKALARM® reversing alarms, BACKEYE® rear-view and all round visibility CCTV, BACKSENSE® and BACKSCAN® rear detection systems

1 Reversing alarm benefit traits were posed as statements to respondents:

  • Only heard when the forklift is near
  • I can tell the forklift’s direction of travel without seeing it
  • The backup alarm becomes louder or softer depending on other shop noises
  • People with hearing loss can hear the alarm
  • I can tell where the forklift is without looking
  • The backup alarm is hard to ignore, I can’t tune it out
  • Shop noise does not hide or interfere with the backup alarm
  • I am not frightened when I suddenly hear the alarm