Protecting Office Workers from Acoustic Shock

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New legislation to protect office call centre staff is due for implementation in 2006. Many UK call centres will be affected and headset upgrades are required to meet new Health and Safety regulations.

Trade unions are preparing hundreds of legal claims over what they describe as the "industrial injury of the 21st century." The condition, known as "acoustic shock," is said to afflict office workers that are insufficiently protected from high-pitched telephone audio feedback.

The term “Acoustic shock” is used to define any incident where the sound level exceeds the statutory acoustic shock threshold (118dBSPL in the European Union). There has been legislation in place for a number of years (e.g. the Noise at Work Regulations 1989) to protect workers from excessive sound exposure within the workplace, but at the start of 2003 a new European directive was produced to provide enhanced protection for office workers.

The latest directive defines the minimum health and safety requirements for noise exposure, and because it is more stringent than the previous regulations which it replaces, it is vital UK businesses comply.

As BT has already discovered, the costs can be dramatic if an “acoustic shock” claim is successful. BT has already paid out £90,000 to one worker who proved that the sudden loud noises experienced through their inferior headsets left them with depression, headaches and other health problems.

National legislation to implement this directive must be in place by 6th April 2006 and it is essential that UK businesses respond to these changes.

About Headsets UK is one of the UK’s leading e-commerce sites dedicated to the distribution of acoustic shock preventing phone and PC headset solutions for UK residential, SME and corporate clients. is the latest website in Evocal Ltd's online portfolio. Evocal Ltd ( is one of the UK's leading online resellers of telecoms hardware, offering over 3,000 products from 200 leading suppliers.

For more information, go to or call +44 (0)870 777 5777.


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James Old