Award received by system that shows when earplugs are useless

A combination of special earphones, an interface unit and PC software that shows when earplugs are useful and when, either due to poor choice or incorrect insertion, they serve little purpose, won this year's British Safety Industry Federation Awards.

The French developed technology is called VeriPRO and consists of software, a pair of headphones and an interface unit that connects to a PC. In 'Quick Check' mode, the user listens to pulses alternating in the two headphones and adjusts their relative balance until the perceived sound levels are the same. They then repeat this process first with one earplug fitted in one ear, and then with both earplugs fitted. This allows the determination of how effective the earplugs are, as worn.

Sperian managing director, Stuart Turnbull says that typically a pair of earplugs rated at reducing noise by 28dBA, in fact only achieve 20 and 9 dBA noise reduction respectively.

David Leonard, who has spent a lifetime in the business and was formerly the managing director of Howard Leight explained that many users did not have the right earplugs or inserted them incorrectly and effectively gain no protection at all. With help and training, it was found possible to choose different products and obtain better results. However, his overall conclusion was that most users are presently living in a 'fool's paradise' as regards the protection given by their earplugs.

The awards were given out at the RoSPA dinner at the Hilton Metropole Hotel on the evening of May 11 2010. David Lummis, BSIF Enterprises, said: "The BSIF Safety Awards were designed to recognise innovation within the safety industry and we were delighted by the high standard of entries this year. We were pleased to be able to join with RoSPA to recognise the overall winners, in front of almost 900 people, at its prestigious awards dinner.

"We would like to congratulate not only the winners but also everyone who entered for their ongoing commitment to the safety industry. It is through their efforts that the UK is able to continue to offer excellence within the occupational health and safety market, ultimately helping to contribute to improved workplace safety and keep workers safe from harm."

Tom Shelley

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