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Shop our Ear Muffs & Earplugs Products for Sound Protection at Work

The world has become an increasingly loud and noisy place, taking its toll on our hearing. Whether you’re working on a construction site or attending a loud concert, it’s important to protect your hearing with the right hearing protection. Read on to learn more about the different types of hearing protection and find the one that’s right for you.

What are the four types of hearing protection?

The four main types of hearing protection are earplugs, earmuffs, custom hearing protection, and noise-cancelling headphones. Earplugs are designed to fit snugly into the ear canal and block out harmful sound levels. Earmuffs are designed to fit over the entire ear and provide a seal that helps block out sound. Custom hearing protection is designed to fit the shape of the ear and provide a higher level of noise protection. Noise-cancelling headphones are designed to reduce background noise and make it easier to hear important sounds.

What is the best type or most effective for hearing protection?

The best type of hearing protection depends on the specific environment and type of noise exposure the user is going to be exposed to. Earplugs are often the most effective and comfortable option for most everyday noise exposures, such as machinery, tools, and music. Earmuffs are better suited for ongoing higher-volume industrial or construction noise. Custom hearing protection is the best option for environments with very loud and/or specific noise, such as shooting ranges and motorsport events. Noise-cancelling headphones are best for blocking out background noise and allowing the user to focus on specific sounds.

The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), chosen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is used to measure the noise-reduction capabilities of hearing protection devices. The difference between the A-weighted environmental noise level and the NRR closely approximates the amount of noise that enters a person's ear when a hearing protector is used correctly. For example, if the ambient noise level measured at the ear is 92 decibels (A), and the NRR is set at 26 decibels (dB), the noise level entering the ear is roughly equal to [92-26 dB(A)] 66 dB. (A). It is important to select a hearing protection device with the proper dB level needed to avoid hearing damage.

What is the OSHA standard for hearing protection?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide effective hearing protection for workers who are exposed to loud noise levels. OSHA also requires employers to have a hearing conservation program in place for workers exposed to 85 decibels (dB) or more of noise over an 8-hour period. This program includes training, hearing tests, and even a noise monitoring program. Employers must also provide hearing protection devices (HPDs) such as ear plugs or ear muffs to any workers exposed to noise levels of 85 dB or higher.

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