Shouters Need Not Apply: The Case for Enabling Natural Communication on the Jobsite


Construction workers swing hammers and operate machines to get the job done and those tools make noise. When it’s loud, communication becomes challenging. Wireless headsets with built-in hearing protection allow for easy and comfortable interactions, keeping everyone alert and engaged. Hearing and talking normally is the catalyst for a positive safety culture.

We Adapt to Our Environment, But at a Cost

With the first step on the job site in the morning, a construction worker is met with activity everywhere. Their sense of awareness adjusts to their surroundings as they put on their gear and get to it. After a few minutes, the constant noise and movement begins to fade. It’s a natural response that helps us maintain our focus. We give something up in return, though. That focus dampens our other senses. There’s a trade-off.

What are we willing to give up? The saying about Project Management goes, “time, quality and cost – pick two”. Throw safety into the mix; now what’s most important? Proper PPE – including over-the-ear headsets with hearing protection – give you not only increased safety, but efficiency and productivity enhancements with the ability to better communicate and coordinate. You don’t have to sacrifice anything.

Miscommunication is Risky

Construction jobs aren’t among the occupations where you can get by without talking to others. They are actually one of the more interactive professions. What other jobs have multiple teams performing different tasks at the same time and in the same space?

It’s impressive coordination when everything goes as planned. Until it doesn’t. There’s a thin line between business-as-usual and equipment damage or personal injury, like when:

  • Moving a pre-fabricated wall into place but missing an important command from the ground.
  • Giving an incomplete hand signal because of an obstacle between you and the crane operator.
  • Working an asphalt grinder and trying to yell over the noise to find out where the next manhole cover is.

Even if you’re the only one digging a big hole in the ground, you’re a part of every other activity happening around you. And someone may need to get your attention. When they do, you may or may not hear them. And, if you need to get the attention of someone else, can you? Guys working around heavy equipment have been known to throw rocks at the cab to get the excavator’s attention. There’s no turning the engine off and saying, “Hey, let’s take five minutes and really talk about what it is you need from me”. That’s just not how it works.

Natural Communication Makes Us More Alert

Communication gaps are filled by talking. But not long, drawn-out stories on why Jim’s using the skid-steer instead of the backhoe. Ideas can be shared with clear and quick words and acknowledgement from the other guy. “Okay, I got it. I’ll get the truck over your way.” Done. Wireless headsets allow short conversations over long distances that make it sound like they’re in the cab with you.

Common sense tells us that we will interact with others more often when it’s convenient, and the research backs it up. Communication, team cohesion and safety have a direct correlation, according to survey results from a study of 57 construction worksites. Findings show that communication becomes more frequent on a team that works well together. Among the topics of conversation are potential safety hazards, which are noted and shared, resulting in lower-than-average accident rates.

By accommodating our natural tendency to ask questions and share information with the aid of technology, we remove obstacles that isolate workers from others and their environment. A positive safety climate happens when crew members are able to communicate simply and effectively. And, safety compliance and participation increases, including PPE use and active involvement in training sessions.

Hear More and Yell Less

Headsets allow workers in loud environments to coordinate their work and stay connected by bringing voices closer, and cancelling out the noise. And at the end of the shift as you step off the jobsite, you still have use of your voice.

Sonetics headsets support the way people naturally want to communicate. Check out the 3 ways wireless team communication boosts productivity in construction.