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What is an 'acoustic shock'?

An 'acoustic shock' is a freak sound burst on a telephone headset, which can leave the call handler in severe pain. They can be deliberate or accidental. The likely causes of freak sound bursts on headsets include:

  • electronic sounds from fax machines;
  • random electronic impulses;
  • customers tapping into a handset; and
  • malicious acts, e.g. customers blowing a whistle down the phone.

Acoustic shock can leave you with long-term hearing damage, including finding it difficult to tolerate certain types and levels of sound. A BT employee won £90,000 in compensation after suffering acoustic shock at a BT telephone exchange. He was supported by his union, the CWU. He now suffers from tinnitus.