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Wed August 10 2022

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A1 road workers get smart ear defenders

9 Mar 21 Costain has issued operatives on its £180m A1 Scotswood-North Brunton road widening project with smart ear defenders.

Costain operatives are briefed on the new ear defenders
Costain operatives are briefed on the new ear defenders

The Eave FocusLite active ear defenders use ‘hear through’ technology that reduces loud background noise but still lets wearers hold conversations with each other.

The A1 upgrade between Scotswood and North Brunton is one of three projects that Costain has on its books for Highways England in the northeast under its regional delivery partnership (RDP) contract model. Costain will also upgrade sections of the A1 between Birtley and Coalhouse and in Northumberland.

Following a pilot at the Scotswood to North Brunton works, Costain plans to roll-out Eave’s hearing protection system across its three RDP sites.

The nature of the projects mean that work sites are linear. At Scotswood-North Brunton Costain operatives are currently working at night and progressing from north to south at a rapid pace, often completing 100 metres of central reservation upgrades and up to 900 metres of resurfacing per shift. Ambient noise levels are high, worksites are constantly moving and potential hazards are shifting all the time.

Eave’s hearing protection system consists of smart ear defenders that continuously collect data on environmental noise and the wearer’s exposure to noise, beacons that work with the ear defenders to map worksite noise, and an online platform for viewing the data and gathering insight. Costain will use the information gathered to protect and educate over-exposed workers, adjust working methods, and remove noise hazards at source.

Mal Shiels, Costain’s framework SHE manager, said: “The data we get from Eave is invaluable, because it allows us to identify where and why operatives are being exposed to harmful noise, and design effective interventions to stop dangerous situations from recurring. The Eave system is going to transform hearing protection at Costain, but even if our partnership prevents just one person from having a deterioration in their hearing, it will have been a success.”

Eve chief executive David Greenberg said: “After decades of failure, it is clear that traditional hearing protection devices like ear plugs and passive ear defenders will never be an effective solution to the scourge of occupational deafness in the construction industry. If contractors want to effectively protect their workers from noise-induced hearing loss they need a system that protects and monitors at the same time. Eave’s system offers best-in-class hearing protection while automatically and continuously gathering data on site noise, worker exposure and headset effectiveness - and delivering a host of other benefits like improved situational awareness into the bargain. That’s why we’re seeing strong demand from contractors like Costain, who are genuinely committed to preserving the welfare of their workforce and want to stamp out occupational deafness in the construction sector for good.”

As previously reported, last year Eave received £2m of venture capital funding from Pembroke VCT

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