Backup Alarms

ENSURING SAFETY ON ALL FRONTS – OPTIMAL USE OF BACKUP ALARMS

backup alarms

At SWS industrial-grade warning lights aren’t the only safety products handcrafted by our engineers. They also manufacture backup alarms for commercial vehicles.

Backup alarms are a vital component for all large vehicles. They provide an added measure of safety and precaution while notifying others around them when they are preparing to drive in reverse.

You have probably seen, or better yet heard a backup alarm in action. These alarms are often found on large commercial vehicles like trucks or tractor-trailers given their vast number of blind spots.
In today’s blog, we’ll take a look at how the optimal use of backup alarms came to fruition, the various models offered by SWS, and how to get the most out of this safety feature.

History of Backup Alarms

Many Canadian jurisdictions use different snowplow configurations with respect to signing, lighting, colour, shape, and size. This lack of consistency makes it even more challenging for drivers to correctly identify a snowplow and respond appropriately. Uncertainty, slow response, and inappropriate driver reactions can lead to collisions.

They have a Snowplow Lighting Program and a Snowplow Lighting Guide, as well as other resources to help you prepare for winter conditions. The guide was developed through a volunteer committee comprised of representatives of TAC’s standing committees on Road Safety, Traffic Operations and Management, and Maintenance and Construction. The objective of the guide is to enable road authorities and winter maintenance service providers to increase snow removal equipment visibility and to work towards increasing the consistency of the appearance of snowplows across Canada. Motorist safety is enhanced when snowplows can be detected and recognized with adequate time to respond appropriately. Visibility and consistency of appearance are the key factors for detection and recognition.

Post-World War II, accidents while reversing became commonplace, posing a significant risk to other drivers and pedestrians. Mirrors alone were no match for the blind spots located near the rear of heavy vehicles.

To limit the number of accidents, spotters, also known as human backers, were introduced. Although popular, this labor-intensive solution was not practical for every scenario and still put countless humans at risk. But then decades later, a promising resolution entered the scene – the first ever electronic reversing alarm…

The first tonal ‘beep beep’ alarms were introduced in the United States and Japan back in the 1960s. Soon after their introduction, businesses and organizations began to take note of their life-saving potential. And in 1979, in the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) made reversing alarms mandatory on large construction vehicles.

Backup alarms have come a long way

Since first entering the marketplace, the need for backup alarms has grown considerably. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and OSHA have also mandated the type of signal and sound level required for this safety feature. The standard has become the audible horn or beep at a sound level of 87 to 112 dB at 4 feet. These devices produce an audible noise with a dominant frequency.

Backup alarms offered by SWS

At SWS we offer two main types of backup alarms: injection molded ABS alarms and die-cast aluminum alarms. Below we’ll provide an overview of the various models so that you can develop a better understanding of each.

Injection Moulded ABS

Select Series

Part No. 99202

Our Backup Alarm 97DB Single Tone features:

  • Water-resistant speaker cone
  • ABS plastic housing
  • Encapsulated circuitry
  • Stud mount wiring
  • SAE J994 Class C Compliant
  • Dimensions: 2 5/8”H x 4” W x 1 5/8”D

Part No. 99901

Our Backup Alarm 97DB Single Tone features:

  • Water-resistant speaker cone
  • Stainless steel diffuser screen
  • Fully encapsulated electronics
  • ABS body
  • Dimensions: 3 1/8” H x 3 3/4” W x 2”D

Fleet Series

Part No.62

Our 107-112DB Backup Alarm with polycarbonate housing features:

  • User selectable pattern: single, dual, or steady tone
  • Selectable tone intensity
  • Single tone (87dB, 97dB, 102dB, 107dB, 112dB)
  • Dual tone (97dB, 102dB)
  • Steady tone (107dB)
  • Stainless steel diffuser screen
  • Fully encapsulated electronics
  • ABS body
  • Water-resistant speaker cone
  • Dimensions: 3 1/8”H x 3 3/4″W x 2” D

Die-cast Aluminum

Fleet Plus Series:

Part No.60

Our 87-112dB backup alarm with die-cast housing features:

  • User selectable pattern: single, dual, or steady tone
  • Selectable tone intensity
  • Single tone (87dB, 97dB, 102dB, 107dB, 112dB)
  • Dual tone (97dB, 102dB)
  • Steady tone (107dB)
  • Stainless steel diffuser screen
  • Fully encapsulated electronics
  • Die-cast zinc body
  • Water-resistant speaker cone
  • Dimensions: 3 1/8””H x 4 1/2″W x 1 5/8” D

Part No. 61

Our 107-112dB backup alarm with die-cast housing features:

  • User selectable pattern: single, dual, or steady tone
  • Selectable tone intensity
  • Single tone (87dB, 97dB, 102dB, 107dB, 112dB)
  • Dual tone (97dB, 102dB)
  • Steady tone (107dB)
  • Stainless steel diffuser screen
  • Fully encapsulated electronics
  • Die-cast zinc body
  • Water-resistant speaker cone
  • Dimensions: 4 13/16”H x 6 1/16” W x 2” D

Ensure the optimal use of your SWS backup alarms

Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires that backup alarms are installed on any vehicle with an obstructed rear view when moving in reverse.

To ensure the optimal use of backup alarms, the Canadian scientific research organization Institut de recherche Robert-Sauve en sante et en securite du travail (IRSST) released a video with several recommendations.

The information presented in the short video comes from an IRSST-funded study on the knowledge of the audibility and sound source localization of backup alarms, as well as how the positioning of the devices affects sound transmission behind vehicles.

The video recommends:

  • Placing the backup alarm at the vehicle’s rear at a height of about 3 feet to 6.5 feet above the ground and where it can easily be seen and heard by workers in hazard zones
  • Setting the alarm volume just above the level of ambient noise
  • The maximum reversing speed should not exceed 7.5 mph, allowing workers nearby the vehicle to have at least two seconds of reaction time
  • If several vehicles will be reversing at the same time, use broadband alarms. This will “minimize the risks associated with poor ability to locate sound sources,” IRSST says in a press release

Designing and handcrafting safety products since 1969

SWS is no stranger to safety products. Our engineers have been designing and handcrafting safety products with an uncompromising approach to quality and durability for decades. Our in-house engineering team uses the best components available in order to exceed industry requirements. We promise to never compromise on quality, especially when safety is on the line. Contact us today to learn more about how our backup alarms and warning lights can improve your heavy vehicles or to find a dealer near you.

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