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What is 'acoustic shock'?

'Acoustic shocks' are freak soundbursts on telephone headsets, which can leave call handlers in severe pain. They can be deliberate or accidental. The likely causes of freak soundbursts on headsets include:

  • Electronic sounds from fax machines.
  • Random electronic impulses.
  • Customers tapping into a handset.
  • 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.