People should wear a hearing protector if the noise or sound level at the workplace exceeds 85 decibels (A-weighted) or dBA. Hearing protectors reduce the noise exposure level and the risk of hearing loss.
If hearing protection is required, then a complete hearing conservation program should be implemented. A hearing conservation program includes noise assessment, hearing protector selection, employee training and education, audiometric testing, maintenance, inspection, record keeping, and program evaluation.
The effectiveness of hearing protection is reduced greatly if the hearing protectors do not fit properly, if they are worn only periodically, or if they are removed even for a short period of time. To maintain their effectiveness, the hearing protection should not be modified!
Select hearing protection that is:
- Correct for the job. Refer to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standard Z94.2-14 for more information.
- Provides adequate protection. Check the manufacturer’s literature.
- Compatible with other required personal protective equipment, or communication devices.
- Comfortable enough to be accepted and worn.
- Appropriate for the temperature and humidity in the workplace.
- Able to provide adequate communication and audibility needs (e.g., the ability to hear alarms or warning sounds)
Types of Hearing Protection
- Ear plugs are inserted in the ear canal. They may be premolded (preformed) or moldable (foam ear plugs). Disposable, reusable or custom molded ear plugs are available.
- Semi-insert ear plugs which consist of two ear plugs held over the ends of the ear canal by a rigid headband.
- Ear muffs consist of sound-attenuating material and soft ear cushions that fit around the ear and hard outer cups. They are held together by a head band.
How Do I Choose My Hearing Protection?
The choice of hearing protectors is a very personal one and depends on a number of factors including level of noise, comfort, and the suitability of the hearing protector for both the worker and his environment. Most importantly, the hearing protector should provide the desired noise reduction. It is best, where protectors must be used, to provide a choice of a number of different types to choose from.
If the noise exposure is intermittent, ear muffs are more desirable, since it may be inconvenient to remove and reinsert earplugs.
Still not sure what to choose? Get in touch with us today and we’ll help you find the right hearing protection solution for your needs.