Project: Enabling lecturers and students to safely communicate in noisy training environments

3M Safety & Graphics
Thursday, 17 March, 2011

TAFE SA is a network of three independent institutes that provide vocational education and training in South Australia, to an average of 80,000 students in courses ranging from building and furnishing to engineering and transport. Part of South Australia’s Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology, TAFE SA plays a key role in the development of the state’s workforce and community. In building South Australia’s skill base, the institutes work with industry and business to deliver relevant vocational training to better link skills and training with job opportunities, ensuring sustainable employment within the state. This means offering the best possible quality of teaching and searching for ways to update their services.

However, many of the institutes’ educators have been challenged to effectively communicate with students in their vocational classes because of the typically high-noise environments they teach in.

According to Jorgen Andersen, a lecturer at the TAFE SA Marleston Campus: “We needed to find a product that allows lecturers and students to communicate in noisy education and training environments, like our building and furnishing program.”

Andersen identified the Peltor Lite-Com III communication headset as a potential solution to the communications problem in the classes and approached the local 3M product specialist, Shaun Carrigan, for assistance.

The Peltor brand has been associated with two-way communications in high-noise environments for many years and Carrigan was confident he would be able to provide a solution to the TAFE.

Carrigan commented: “Although our communication products are applied commercially throughout many industries in Australia, we welcomed the opportunity to work with TAFE SA on the introduction of this innovative solution to control hazardous noise and improve safety for lecturers and students at the Marleston Campus.”

The use of the headsets has enabled lecturers and students to safely hear conversations in high-noise teaching environments. This facilitates teaching methods and speeds up the lecture process, as students and teachers no longer need to compete against the noise in order to be heard.

The 3M Peltor Lite-Com III is a high-performance headset with a built-in 69-channel communication radio for hands-free, short-range communication with other Peltor Lite-Com III headsets. The headset also has a built-in active-volume function that allows wearers to hear ambient sounds like conversations, instruction, machine noises and warning signals while, at the same time, protecting their hearing from harmful noise that may be present in their working environment.

These functions allow teaching staff, such as Dennis Daykin, Building & Furnishing Lecturer at TAFE SA Marleston Campus, who now wears a communications headset while demonstrating working equipment to students, to be easily heard even in such a noisy educational environment.

Thus for TAFE classes, the headset provides lecturers with considerable training flexibility, even while demonstrating noisy equipment. Lecturers are able to address a whole class, and then break off into any number of the 69 available channels for dedicated training, instructions or specific forums.

“We believe TAFE SA is the first education and training organisation in Australia to use this headset technology based on four tones per channel, with signature dedications,” added Andersen. “This communication brings a whole new dimension to addressing individual questions, without having to move directly alongside the individual. Student feedback has been extremely positive, as individualising specifics can be addressed easily and quickly.”

The headset has already been identified for its further training potential by the staff at TAFE SA O’Halloran Hill Campus, who value the impact that it is expected to have on their ‘dymo testing’ facility. This means that the headsets allow for freedom of movement during lectures so that the staff are no longer restricted to a control room instead of working directly alongside the equipment.

Peltor’s headset technology has significant benefits across a wide range of noisy TAFE and other educational environments that have communication challenges, including primary production machinery, building, construction, automotive and engineering sectors. In addition, the wider applications are vast - from giving diving instructions in a recreation program to backstage communication in a theatre environment in an arts program.

“I’m extremely happy with the opportunity to have worked with the vision of 3M,” Andersen concluded. “This leading-edge technology places TAFE SA training ahead of current workplace environments.”

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