How to Select and Use Hearing Protection
How to Select Hearing Protection
Noise-related hearing loss is one of the most common work-related injuries in the U.S. That is why selecting proper hearing protection is important, as your ears are composed of very delicate structures that may be damaged by high volume.Typically, exposure to 85 decibels (dB) or more over an eight hour period of time is considered excessive noise exposure, and should be mitigated with a hearing protection device. Whether you are going out to cut some wood with a chainsaw, heading to the rifle range for some target practice, or groggy because your partner won't quit snoring, ear protection can help protect your hearing from unwanted or damaging noise.
Understanding Ratings and Uses
Familiarize yourself with Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR).NRR is the standard rating system across all hearing protection devices. Under NRR, hearing devices are classified by their potential to limit decibels (dB) in professional and occupational environments. NRRs are determined by both the American National Standards (ANSI) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Understanding this rating system will allow you better understand the noise you are exposed to as well as the type of protection you will need.
- The NRR should be easily readable on the back of the box your hearing protection was purchased in.
- In order to determine the decibel level you are exposed to, subtract the NRR from the decibels in your environment. For example, if you are at a rock concert with a noise exposure of 100 dB and you are wearing earplugs with an NRR rating of 27 dB, you will be exposed to 73 dB.
- A general rule is that the higher the NRR the better the protection will be.
Consider how long you will be needing hearing protection.Deciding on and selecting hearing protection will often come down to the user’s choice. Understanding the job you will be doing, what the source of the noise is, and how long you will need to protect your hearing will give you the information you need to choose a type of protection.
- For example, if you a using a loud drill or jackhammer for hours you might prefer earplugs. However, if you are going to be exposed to noise intermittently, you might prefer earmuffs as they are easier to remove and put back into place.
Consult your employer.Your employer should be able to provide you with the necessary information about the type of noise you will be exposed to and how long you will be exposed to it. If it is not your employer’s policy to provide you with hearing protection ask them for recommendations of where to purchase the appropriate protection.
- Regulatory bodies such as OSHA often state that employers must provide employees with safe tools and equipment, and also warn employees of hazardous materials or environments.
- Ask your employer to provide you with information regarding safe noise level exposures, or consult online resources, like OSHA.
- You can also look up hearing protection devices online. Many manufacturers have extensive informational resources that can help you choose the right protection for your job.
Consult a hearing specialist.Hearing specialists, also known as audiologists, can provide you with useful information regarding what preventative measures can be taken to preserve your hearing. See a specialist especially if you already have hearing impairment conditions as exposure to high volumes of noise can still damage your ears.
- Ask your doctor for recommendations on hearing specialists.
Choosing the Right Type of Protection
Try disposable earplugs for one time use.Disposable earplugs are made from a foam like substance and are meant for one-size-fits-all single-use applications. Compress the earplug, insert it into your ear, and let it expand until it has formed to your inner ear.
- Use disposable earplugs when your exposure to sound will limited and you plan on discarding them after one use.
Use pre-molded reusable earplugs for a better seal.Pre-molded earplugs are often made from plastic, rubber, or silicone and come in custom sizes or “one size fits most.”
- The advantages of pre-molded earplugs are that they are cheap, reusable, convenient to carry, and more comfortable to use on hot days or compact spaces.
- Pre-molded earplugs come in small, medium, and large sizes.
- Be aware that your ears are not identical and that you might need a different size plug for each ear.
Use canal caps or hearing bands for convenience.Canal caps or hearing bands can either be pre-molded or formable earplugs connected by a flexible metal or plastic band. The main advantage of canal plugs is their convenience: they provide the seal of an earplug while also retaining the convenience of earmuffs. You can hang canal caps or hearing bands around your neck when not in use.
- Some find the pressure of the band to be uncomfortable. Keep a pair of earplugs on hand when using canal caps for the first time in case you experience discomfort.
Try earmuffs for more uniform use.Earmuffs come in many models that are designed to fit most individuals. Earmuffs come in a variety of sizes, from small caps to larger shells, and fit around your ear. Earmuffs also come in three main designs: over the head, cap mounted, and behind the neck.
- A general rule for earmuffs is the higher the NRR the larger the earmuff will be.
- You may find earmuffs to be uncomfortable if you have a large beard, sideburns, or wear glasses. If you experience discomfort switch to earplugs.
Try wearing both earplugs and earmuffs for added protection.If you are in a particularly loud environment, try using both plugs and earmuffs for extra hearing protection. To determine the NRR of earplugs and earmuffs together, simply add 5 dB to the protective device with a higher NRR. For example, if you are wearing earmuffs rated to 35 dB and earplugs rated 30 dB your overall NRR would be 40 dB.
Choosing Protection for Specific Activities
Use earplugs when at a concert.Rock concerts at their peak can be in a painful dB range, whereas other concerts, such as jazz or classical music, rarely reach painful volumes. Although earmuffs will also provide adequate hearing protection earplugs will likely be your best option as they are small and concealable. Be sure to carry a pair of disposable earplugs when attending a concert in case volumes reach painful levels.
- Rock concerts can reach dB levels of 150 at their peak, which is well beyond a painful register. In comparison, jet plane take-offs are around 120 dB. Look for earplugs with high NRR ratings to reduce your exposure level, ideally to around 80 dB.
- If you attend or perform in concerts regularly consider purchasing a custom set of pre-molded earplugs that provide protection from the noise levels you are exposed to.
Try earmuffs or canal caps when operating machines or tools.Machines and tools, whether industrial or home-owned, can risk exposing you to high levels of noise. If you plan on your exposure being consistent, like two hours of jackhammering concrete or using a lawnmower, try using earmuffs. If you plan on your exposure to be inconsistent, like when sawing wood down to parts or drilling intermittently, try using canal caps to easily remove and re-insert your hearing protection in between points of exposure.
- Jack hammers produce noise that can be painful (130 dB), while other tools like drills and saws (100 dB) produce noise that is not painful but can still harm your hearing.
Consider using earplugs when in loud public environments.Try to carry a pair of disposable earplugs if you find yourself in loud public environments, like sports games, trains, or large crowds in a city’s downtown area. Although you will not need protection consistently, having a pair of earplugs on you will keep you protected when your environment begins to reach noise levels that could harm your hearing.
- Crowds and trains produce noise in a range of 80 dB to 90 dB.
Video: How to Choose The Best Hearing Protection by Using The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) | Seton
Which Is Better: Bottled Water Or Tap Water
Are Your Kids Toys Toxic
Should You Keep Your Makeup In TheFridge
Pain Control Expert: How to Avoid Another Fungal Meningitis Outbreak
How to Exercise when You Have a Cold
Basic Training - The Best Workout Routines for Athletes
Ayurvedic Tips To Reduce Acid Indigestion Food Tips in hindi
How to Stop Diarrhea During Early Pregnancy
Create an Eye-Catching Logo to Focus Your Brand
So The Nanny Gavin Rossdale May Have Had An Affair With Looks So Much Like Gwen Stefani Its Creepy
Jessica Biels Master Contouring
Can Boots Be Altered to Fit My Calves
K-Y Yours Mine Reviews