Acoustic Shock at Work

Acoustic shock – is it new to your ear? What is acoustic shock? It is any disturbance to the ear as a result of being exposed to unexpected sharp rise in pitch while using a telephone headphone/earphone. An acoustic shock is the ear’s response to an acoustic incident, which is defined as a sudden and unexpected sound transmitted through a telephone line straight to a headset.

What are the causes of acoustic shock? There are no known direct causes of acoustic shock but there are some factors that have been identified that might cause it:

• Faulty headset
• Faulty telephone line
• Transmission glitches in the network
• Fax tones
• Cellular phone interference
• Oscillations between the cordless telephone and base
• Lightning strikes
• Malicious sounds like shouting from the other line

This is considered to be a potential work-related injury. Those workers that are considered to be at high risk are call center agents who have endure being on the phone for most of their office duty. If you are a part of this growing industry and you suspect that you might develop the condition, find below the typical signs and symptoms of acoustic shock:

• Ear pain – which is felt at onset of the sound
• Nausea
• Hollow feeling inside the ear
• Ringing in the ear (Tinnitus)
• Poor balance as a result of the sounds inside the ear
• Hearing impairment over time
• Burning sensation around the face and the head areas
• Numbness

The above things mentioned above are just some of the most obvious symptoms; over time, there are symptoms that might manifest, such as the following:

• Anxiety – the feeling of panic anticipation of an acoustic incident might happen anytime
• Hypersensitivity to loud sounds when that wasn’t the case before the acoustic incident
• Difficulty in sleeping
• Constant headaches
• Co-workers might get affected as they would be apprehensive if they, too, would experience an acoustic incident

Experts say that prevention is always better than finding a cure for the condition, in fact, there are no known specific cure for acoustic shock yet. Call center companies have to make sure that the working environment will help minimize, if not eliminate the risks of acoustic incidents.

Steps to be undertaken can start by limiting the sound levels in the workplace. However, it is worthy to make mention that acoustic shock is not loud based on the loudness parameters. What companies can do is to also make actions into reducing ambient noises – ensuring that there will be less background noises.

The call center, when it becomes a stressful workplace can take its toll on the workers, then add to that the stress level they might reach when they have to endure acoustic shock. The best way to deal with this is to reduce the stress level in the workplace by providing some recreational activities for the agents when on break.

Regular medical checkup has to be in place to ensure that the workers are in tip-top shape.

Superiors might also consider a worker that has been affected by acoustic shock to have him or her transferred to a different department or given different responsibilities or assignments.

Proper diagnosis and prevention are your best options.

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