Hearing protection onsite is a must, but finding the happy balance between industrial protection, situational awareness and the ability to communicate with nearby colleagues has been a hard nut to crack. 3M’s PELTOR ProTac III Headset Headbands seem to have nailed the equation perfectly.
Taking away the need to remove the headset to communicate means you can leave the PELTORs on while still hearing alarms, cries for help, approaching vehicles or sounds produced by machines and industrial processes. They not only protect your hearing, but they keep you safe in and around the many potential hazards onsite when your hearing is significantly reduced.
Combining smart technology and user friendly design with the PELTOR ProTac III headsets was the goal for 3M, with level dependent noise reduction up to 32dB. The auto power-off function deactivates the headset after four hours of non-use, and a low-battery warning lets the wearer know when the batteries need to be changed.
Quite cleverly, 3M has reduced potential sweat damage by placing the electronics in the outer part of the cup – something the company must have picked up from customer feedback.
TEST #1: LEVELDEPENDENT NOISE REDUCTION
Trying the PELTORs in various locations where loud machinery and power tools were being used was the best way to test this central feature.
Our first stop was a kitchen-manufacturing company with extensive exhaust systems and CNC machines working nonstop. A router was also being used to clean up a few edges and it created a perfect noise trifecta.
Not only did the PELTORs reduce the significant noise elements, when working with tools you could very easily leave the headset on while communicating with other workers without having to raise your voice or yell.
So this was a big success.
We repeated this same test in a metalfabrication environment where welding, grinding and linishing was happening, all at the same time in the same workshop. Again, overall noise reduction was more than adequate, but easy communication was possible where other workers had to remove their ear protection to engage in the same conversation.
TEST #2: COMFORT AND EASE OF USE
Using the PELTORs was as easy as pressing a central button. A voice-guided system lets you know when you have powered up or down, removing any confusion.
The inclusion of a 3.5mm, listen-only stereo input (limited to 82dB) for connection to external devices like mobile phones, radios, two-way radios and iPods enables excellent interaction with other devices and the lowbattery warning informs the wearer when to change batteries and adds to the outstanding usability of these Headset Headbands.
On the comfort factor, the stainless-steelwire padded headband makes for a great fit with consistent pressure and a high comfort factor. The padding of the cup hasn’t been skimped on at all.
Overall, these PELTORs are right up there with my preferred earmuffs for usability and comfort. The fact you can easily communicate with other workers with the PELTORs in place while still being safeguarded against harmful noises makes them a winner.
There are two level-dependent microphones on the side of each cup for ambient listening. That gives the option of 5 incremental steps to turn up or down the ambient volume level, and that further enhances situational awareness and safety. It is a little weird when you first experience this as you can increase the volume to have a louder experience of the ambient noise, but then, when the louder noise is experienced, the technology reduces this louder noise by up to 32dB while still making sure you’re aware of alarms and other important sounds.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
In terms of style, there are two options to choose from. The first is a slimmer cup for less-noisy environments, while the second is a larger cup for noisier environments.
I can see the PELTOR ProTac III Headset Headband will be perfect hearing protection for anyone in an industrial, manufacturing or worksite environment where communication and maintaining optimum situation awareness is a necessity. The flexibility of this product is an excellent use of technology and advancement in PPP.