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"White noise" backup alarm gaining traction in B.C.

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by JOC News Service

A new "white noise" back up alarm is gaining in popularity in British Columba, according to WorkSafeBC.
"White noise" backup alarm gaining traction in B.C.

The alarms, also referred to as "broadband," use the same cadence as traditional backup alarms but broadcast in a range of frequencies. The alarm meets WorkSafeBC's occupational health and safety requirements.

The broadband alarm emits a pulsing, "psssht-psssht" sound more focused in the area where a person is potentially at risk, a WorkSafeBC release said. According to WorkSafeBC statistics, 11 workers were killed in the 10-year period from 2006 and 2015 when backing vehicles or mobile equipment pinned them against an object and/or struck them.

"When we hear beeping from back up alarms all the time, we gradually learn to ignore it as a warning signal. With the broadband alarm, because we're not hearing it as much in our daily lives, we are less likely to become used to the sound, or habituated to it, and are therefore less likely to tune it out when it is important for us to hear it," WorkSafeBC occupational audiologist Sasha Brown said.

The University of Victoria (UVic)has retrofitted most of its maintenance vehicles with the new alarms and all new vehicles are evaluated for retrofit with the broadband alarm. The Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Corporation of Delta have also installed the white noise back up alarm on vehicles in their fleets.

"The university wants to be a good neighbour to the surrounding community. We took a look, did some testing and discussed it with the local WorkSafeBC office in Victoria. It has a very unique sound, it makes it more noticeable to those who need to hear it for safety reasons, and it's eliminated our noise complaints from nearby residents," UVic facilities department environmental, health and safety coordinator Darryl Huculak said.

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