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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 67  |  Page : 420--436

Comparison of sound propagation and perception of three types of backup alarms with regards to worker safety

1 School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, K1H 8M5, Canada
2 Research and Expertise Division, Institut de Recherche Robert-Sauvé en Santé et Sécurité Du Travail, Montréal, Québec, H3A 3C2, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Hugues Nélisse
505, Boul. de Maisonneuve Ouest, Montréal, QC, H3A 3C2
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Source of Support: The work was funded by the Institut de Recherche Robert-Sauvé en Santé et Sécurité du Travail as stated in the acknowledgement section of the paper., Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.121249

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A technology of backup alarms based on the use of a broadband signal has recently gained popularity in many countries. In this study, the performance of this broadband technology is compared to that of a conventional tonal alarm and a multi-tone alarm from a worker-safety standpoint. Field measurements of sound pressure level patterns behind heavy vehicles were performed in real work environments and psychoacoustic measurements (sound detection thresholds, equal loudness, perceived urgency and sound localization) were carried out in the laboratory with human subjects. Compared with the conventional tonal alarm, the broadband alarm generates a much more uniform sound field behind vehicles, is easier to localize in space and is judged slighter louder at representative alarm levels. Slight advantages were found with the tonal alarm for sound detection and for perceived urgency at low levels, but these benefits observed in laboratory conditions would not overcome the detrimental effects associated with the large and abrupt variations in sound pressure levels (up to 15-20 dB within short distances) observed in the field behind vehicles for this alarm, which are significantly higher than those obtained with the broadband alarm. Performance with the multi-tone alarm generally fell between that of the tonal and broadband alarms on most measures.


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