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Plantronics Acoustic Safety Technology

Article ID :
000023741
In this white paper , you learned how Plantronics has been for over 50 years dedicated to creating headsets that not only meet legal requirements but provide customers with a safe and comfortable audio experience, without sacrificing audio quality.
With Plantronics Manager Pro the management and reporting tool for enterprises to apply and monitor regional acoustic settings.  Acoustic events such as G616 limiting or Plantronics enhanced anti-startle limiting can be monitored for changes and data provided to demonstrate to employees that any loud sudden sounds where limited to a safe and comfortable level by the supported Plantronics headset.
This article focusses on how Plantronics Manager Pro can help maintain the health and well-being of headset users, by a simple configuration of device settings, monitoring compliance and using reports to look for trends and actionable insights.
 
 
User-added image
 
Supported Headsets

Plantronics headsets include varying types of acoustic protection technology (SoundGuard / SoundGuard Digital) a further subset of these products also report acoustic telemetry data to Plantronics Manager Pro, see the product table in this white paper and the matrix here to determine if your devices are supported. Plantronics Manager Pro can also be used to create settings policies to apply and configure the acoustic protection technology company-wide (G616/Plantronics Enhanced anti-startle, daily noise exposure 80dB or 85dB etc).  Regional variations can also be considered with different users and or groups having different settings applied depending on their location.


Policy Compliance Reporting

The policy compliance report is an easy to use report that shows compliance with any defined policies.  This report can be used by Health and Safety teams to ensure and demonstrate that acoustic protection settings are correctly applied to their employees.
 
Plantronics Hub Mobile

With Plantronics Hub mobile and supported Plantronics Voyager UC headsets acoustic event data can be captured for mobile calls as well as softphone calls from a computer. For mobile calls, the call start and call end data is not available, but the acoustic event time is provided.
 

Deskphone Support

Using Plantronics MDA400 QD Series acoustic events and noise exposure telemetry data can be captured for a desk phone regardless of the contact center or PBX system being used.  To learn more about the MDA400 QD series see here. For desk phone calls the call start and call end data is not available, but the acoustic event time is provided.
 

Acoustic Event Report

 
Acoustic Event Report

The Acoustic Event Report is included as part of the Health and Safety Suite and allow you to review the history of acoustic events that occurred during conversations using Plantronics products (acoustic events are only reported when the headset is used for communications and not while listening to music).
 

Enabling Acoustic Reporting

To generate an Acoustic Events report, the device must support acoustic events and it must be enabled in the policy. To enable a supported device, go to Policy > Firmware (for that device) > Product Settings > Admin Reporting. Acoustic Event Reporting > ON, Daily Noise Exposure > ON
 

What is an Acoustic event?

An acoustic event can be described as a high-level signal that meets certain pre-defined parameters.  An acoustic startle is generally a sudden loud sound that surprises or startles a person.  The difference between the two is frequently subtle and not always immediately apparent.  For instance, if someone begins speaking loudly after a moment of silence, it may startle the listener initially, but the listener would not be continually startled.  However, the signal containing the continual loud speaking may be captured and reported nevertheless as an acoustic event. Other examples might include very short electric bursts and digital data burst, both of which may be captured and reported as acoustic events but in reality, may not cause acoustic startles.
 

What are the different limiter types?
 
G616 - G616 anti-startle protection that limits the noise level to below 102dBSPL as per the Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) G616 recommendation.
 

PLT Limited Events – one or more of the Plantronics proprietary limiters that reduce the likelihood of an acoustic startle by detecting and controlling: -
  • the delta between the previous listen level and the startle noise  
  • the raising time of the startle noise
  • the duration of the startle noise

My Acoustic event report is showing a high occurrence of acoustic events should I be concerned?
 
As stated above, an Acoustic Event is not the same as an acoustic startle and so acoustic events could occur during normal calls. The Plantronics headsets use an algorithm to predict the acoustic level at the user’s ear if this level is predicted to exceed one or more of the acoustic limiters, then the limiter is applied reducing the sound, an acoustic event is also reported.

 
The occurrence of an acoustic event can be influenced by many things these include
  • The user listening level – the higher the level the greater the occurrence of acoustic events
  • The user's background noise level – the higher the background noise the louder the user will need to set the headset to compensate
  • The far end caller – how loud the far end user talks and the type of background noise they have.
  • The type of limiter – Plantronics proprietary limiters limit on more than just the peak.
  • Acoustic event reporting settings – within Plantronics Manager Pro the sample rate and reporting level can be configured – changing these will change the number of events reported – see here for more details.
 
The correct way to read the report is to look for trends over and above the normal for your environment. These trends could identify an individual who is experiencing more events that the rest of the workforce or a time during the day when more events are occurring.

 
How are the values calculated?
 
Plantronics uses an algorithm in DSP to calculate the peak acoustic level present at the user’s eardrum (DRP). This calculated value is based on the worst-case headset sensitivity data and the worst-case fit to the user’s ear, therefore it will always be greater than or equal to the actual level. In the event of an out-of-range value, refer the headset to an audio laboratory for compliance evaluation.

 
What does Initial (dB) in the report?
 
This is a calculated level of the original event prior to it being mitigation by the relevant limiter.
 
 
What does actual (dB) mean in the report?
 
This is the calculated level of the mitigated level experienced by the user after the relevant limiter(s) have been applied.

 
What does reduction (dB) mean in the report?
 
This is the total reduction in level due to mitigation.

 
Whats does Duration (ms) mean in the report?
 
This is the length of time in ms the reduction in level was applied for.

 
When is the acoustic event data sent?
 
The acoustic event data is sent to Plantronics Manager Pro after each limiting incident is no longer present.

 
Acoustic Event Reporting settings

Within Plantronics Manager Pro for the supported devices, it is possible to configure the duration and gain threshold values, this will adjust the requirements for what determines if an acoustic event is reported and hence will increase or decrease the number of events reported.  It is recommended that these settings are only changed from the default values after consulting with Plantronics.  Changing these values can increase the amount of data captured significantly.

 
Acoustic incident duration threshold – 100ms, 200ms, 300ms, 400ms, 500ms, 1000ms (less data) – this is the minimum time in ms that the acoustic event is present for to be reported as an acoustic event.  The longer the threshold the fewer events will be recorded.

Acoustic incident gain threshold - 1dBA through to 12dBA (report loudest events) in 1dB steps -  this is minimum combined reduction applied that determines if the acoustic event is reported.  The higher the setting the fewer events will be recorded.

How long is the Acoustic Event Report data held for?

The default data retention policy is 36 months this can be changed within Plantronics Manager Pro under Admin -> Preferences -> Data Retention Period

 

Daily Noise Exposure


What is Daily Noise Exposure?

Certain geographic regions (US OSHA regulations, EU Noise at work directive) require that the amount of sound (noise) that an employee is exposed to over a working day is limited to protect their hearing. Some Plantronics products provide limiters to reduce the overall sound over the working day. These regulations have a trading relationship in which reducing the duration of the daily noise exposure allows an increase in the exposure limit.

Noise Exposure setting

For supported products with Plantronics Hub and/or Plantronics Manager Pro the daily noise exposure can be managed to be either OFF, Limited at 80dBA or Limited at 85dBA.
 Within the European Union: -
 
80dBA is the lower action point, which if exceed employers are required to assess the risk to workers’ health, provide employees with information and training, and make hearing protection devices available to them
85dBA is the upper action point above which employees are required to wear hearing protection devices.
Select the required setting based on your internal process and/or background noise.  Although 85dBA provides a louder output and hence is better suited to compensate for louder background noise, it places additional duties on the employer.


Hours on phone per day

Use this setting to adjust the trading relation, reducing the hours on the phone per day will allow an increase in the exposure limit and hence increase the listening level for users – especially useful for those users that are working in a noisy environment.  The options that can be selected are 2, 4, 6 or 8 hours.


Daily noise exposure reporting settings

Within Plantronics Manager Pro for the supported devices, it is possible to configure the reporting time for daily noise exposure from between 1 minute to 10 minutes (less data) in 1-minute intervals. The default is 10 minutes. It is recommended that this setting is only changed from the default values after consulting with Plantronics.  Changing this value can increase the amount of data captured significantly.


How is the daily noise exposure calculated?

The previous 5-10 minutes’ worth of listening level data is used to predict the daily noise exposure over the working day. A limiter is used to reduce the receive level if this predicted level exceeds the noise exposure limit. This rolling predication and adjustment removes the need to track employee’s actual working times.


Does daily noise exposure include listening to media?

Yes, the daily noise exposure includes when the headset is used for listening to media as well as for communications.
 
 

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