A Guide to Hearing Protection
Making the right choice
Permanent hearing loss can occur from repeated overexposure to excessive noise. Damage can be prevented by wearing proper protection. Style, fit, and comfort over extended periods are important when selecting hearing protection.
Additional Factors to consider include
- Noise levels & exposure duration
- Compatibility with other protective equipment
- Equipment loss (if high, choose disposable; if low, choose reusables)
Types of Hearing Protection
Disposable Ear Plugs
Reusable Ear Plugs
Corded Ear Plugs
Uncorded Ear Plugs
Ear MuffsCover and seal the entire ear. Sometimes worn in conjunction with plugs in high noise areas.
Banded Hearing ProtectorsFlexible headbands for a comfortable seal. Offers several degrees of insertion for different levels of protection. Bright colors ensure easy compliance checks.
The Noise Reduction System
Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is the measure, in decibels, of how well a hearing protector reduces noise, as specified by the Environmental Protection Agency. The higher the number, the greater the noise reduction. When dual protectors are used, the combined NRR provides approximately 5 decibels more than the higher rated of the two products. For example, using ear plugs (NRR of 29 decibels) with ear muffs (NRR 27) would provide a Noise Reduction Rating of 34 decibels.
Examples of Noise Levels
A sampling of noise levels is as follows:
- Normal Concentration - 60dB
- Sanding - 85dB
- Woodworking - 100dB
- Power Saw - 110dB
- Auto Traffic - 75dB
- Subway - 90dB
- Drilling (pneumatic) - 100dB
- Gunfire - 120dB