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  • Neal Muggleton

Achieving peace of mind in noisy environments

Minuendo’s automated approach to hearing loss prevention supports behaviour change in industrial and construction markets.





Digitalisation has changed the face of modern manufacturing and construction.


On the shopfloor, advances in robotics have resulted in more streamlined operations, while sensors and big data analytics are driving greater insight for predictive maintenance methodologies.


Meanwhile, on building sites, digitalisation provides benefits in terms of access and security, equipment tracking, and the introduction of paperless operations.

Yet despite these high-tech developments, one critical area – that of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) - remains firmly stuck in the past.


PPE has, in the main, changed very little in either industry in recent times. Disposable earplugs and earmuffs look and feel like they have for decades, untroubled by advances in digital technology seen elsewhere.


That lack of refinement is problematic. Occupational noise-induced hearing loss (ONIHL) is the most common occupational disease in the world. Each case holds the potential to cause enormous individual suffering and distress, with associated health impacts such as early-onset dementia and cardiovascular disease. These health impacts also bring additional societal costs.


Many ONIHL cases can be attributed to poor adoption and usage of adequate PPE. Foam earplugs and earmuffs are cumbersome and uncomfortable and rely too much on the end-user to execute individual judgement around frequency and consistency of use.


These standard devices also provide little or no real-time information about the benefit being derived from their adoption. Users have no way of knowing what level of protection they receive or their level of exposure to damaging noise.


Safety managers, meanwhile, have little idea whether PPE is being worn consistently or correctly, especially with highly mobile end-users often working out of sight in dynamic noise environments. This lack of clarity and insight can result in compliance failures, and that in turn runs the risk of future occupational noise-induced hearing loss claims.


Minuendo protects and connects


So, what can be done to improve the standard of hearing protection in industrial and construction markets? The answer comes in the form of a more digitised solution that both protects and connects. Minuendo provides an opportunity to automate and integrate the hearing loss prevention process in a simple manner, providing clear benefits for end-users and safety managers alike.


The solution’s foundation are smart alert earplugs, which continuously monitor noise levels, providing alerts when unsafe noise levels are encountered. Other usage data, such as when and how well the earplugs have been fitted, is also presented. The earplugs feature an acoustic filter, initially developed for professional musicians, that does not impair situational awareness.


Data recorded over the course of a day is then transferred to Minuendo’s secure cloud platform, where it is analysed, and actionable insight is created. End-users receive practical suggestions and advice on how to improve personal safety and lower the risk of noise-induced hearing loss. It is about empowering end-users to change their safety behaviour.


Automating the process means the safety manager receives digestible data on the adoption and use of hearing protection and only needs to intervene when alerted. Most modern factories or construction sites contain numerous sensors from which there is a risk of information overload. With the Minuendo solution, notifications can be set at specific levels to reduce the level of unwanted email or SMS, so that safety managers can focus their limited resources on the highest priorities.


Easy access to reliable data helps safety managers build necessary reports in a timelier manner and achieve KPIs. Moreover, historical data can inform investigations into whether noise-related hearing loss has been suffered in an occupational or recreational setting.


The Minuendo solution represents the world’s first truly automated and integrated approach to hearing loss prevention, and it will set new standards in industrial and construction applications.


Better protection, improved insight and smarter behaviour - that will be music to the ears of all end-users and safety professionals working in noisy environments.

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