Ear Plugs

Have you heard? Ear protection is important

The human ear is a delicate organ, able to detect the softest whisper but easily damaged by loud noise. Traffic, chainsaws and machinery can maintain a high-decibel sound for an extended period of time, which often results in damage to unprotected ears. If your work exposes you to continual noise, you should invest in quality ear protection. Learn about hearing hazards and find out what kind of ear plugs will protect your hearing in the workplace.

Advertiser Links for Ear Plugs

Ear Protection for Industry

In any workplace with noise exceeding 85 decibels, hearing protection should be worn at all times by all employees. From packaging equipment to generators, many industrial tools generate a noise level that can eventually permanently damage your ears if you do not take measures to protect your hearing. The ear protection must be worn correctly, should be very comfortable and will need to be replaced if the noise conditions in the workplace change.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration requires employers to annually train employees on the dangers of excessive noise, including specific consequences to watch out for and how to protect their hearing. If a workplace requires workers to use hearing protection, they will also need to regularly monitor sound and perform audiometric testing. This type of program will evaluate the noise that is generated by the work environment, test employees' hearing over time and assign proper ear protection as needed.

In most cases, simply covering the ears will not be enough to defend against any damage. Although they cover the ears, radio headsets cannot serve as hearing protectors. Instead, use well-designed ear plugs and ear muffs that are designed to keep out a specific decibel level of sound.

Types of Ear Protection

There are a few protective methods available, and more than one can be used if appropriate. Ear plugs are designed to block the ear canal, and may either be preformed to sit in the ear or moldable to conform to your specific ear shape. Moldable styles such as foam ear plugs are a popular choice, as they are often more comfortable in hot areas and more effective than rigid preformed styles. Alternatively, you can have custom ear plugs created for your ears, which will provide the most comfortable and secure fit. Each type is simple to use and can be worn easily with other protective equipment, such as hard hats.

On the other hand, ear plugs may irritate the ear canal and must be cleaned regularly. Disposable ear plugs are a good choice if you don't want to bother with the upkeep of reusable ear plugs, but they are often less effective. The manufacturer will provide a noise reduction rating (NRR) number to indicate the level of noise protection you can expect from the ear protection. For intermittent noise exposure, consider using ear muffs that will cover and insulate your entire ear. These can be used and removed easily, and you can combine them with ear plugs to boost the level of protection.