More B.C. businesses replacing the beep-beep-beep with a ‘white noise’ vehicle back-up alarm

Published on: December 15, 2016

Richmond, B.C. – More employers across B.C. are replacing the conventional, beep-beep-beep sounding vehicle back-up alarm with a “broadband” or “white noise” back-up alarm. The broadband alarm, which meets WorkSafeBC’s occupational health and safety requirements, uses the same cadence but broadcasts a range of frequencies, rather than a single frequency, as is typically used in a conventional back-up alarm.

Reversing vehicles can pose a significant safety risk on work sites. WorkSafeBC statistics show 11 workers were killed in the 10-year period from 2006 to 2015 when backing vehicles or mobile equipment pinned them against an object and/or struck them.

The broadband alarm emits a pulsing, “psssht-psssht” sound that is more focussed in the area where a person is potentially at risk, thereby alerting workers and pedestrians who are in the vicinity of the vehicle, while reducing noise disturbance in the surrounding community.

Listen to the ‘white noise’, broadband backup alarm.

“When we hear beeping from back-up alarms all the time, we gradually learn to ignore it as a warning signal,” says WorkSafeBC occupational audiologist Sasha Brown. “With the broadband alarm, because we’re not hearing it as much in our daily lives, we are less likely to become used to the sound, or habituated to it, and are therefore less likely to tune it out when it is important for us to hear it.”

In 2015, the University of Victoria installed twenty broadband alarms on its fleet of maintenance vehicles after receiving noise complaints from nearby residents. Today, most of its maintenance vehicles have been retrofitted and all new vehicles are evaluated for the retrofit with the broadband alarm.

“The university wants to be a good neighbour to the surrounding community,” says Darryl Huculak, Environmental, Health and Safety Co-ordinator for the Facilities Department at the University of Victoria. “We took a look, did some testing and discussed it with the local WorkSafeBC office in Victoria. It has a very unique sound, it makes it more noticeable to those who need to hear it for safety reasons, and it’s eliminated our noise complaints from nearby residents.”

The Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Corporation of Delta have also installed the white noise back-up alarm on vehicles in their fleets.

Learn more in the November/December edition of WorkSafe Magazine

Broadband reversing alarms have some employers singing a new tune

WorkSafeBC is an independent provincial statutory agency governed by a Board of Directors that serves 2.3 million workers and more than 225,000 registered employers. WorkSafeBC was born from the historic compromise between B.C.'s workers and employers in 1917 where workers gave up the right to sue their employers and fellow workers for injuries on the job in return for a no-fault insurance program fully paid for by employers. WorkSafeBC is committed to safe and healthy workplaces and to providing return-to-work rehabilitation and legislated compensation benefits.


Erica Simpson
WorkSafeBC Government & Media Relations Officer
Tel: 604.214.6934
Cell: 778.874.0281