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How to choose the best ear protection: An insight for airport workers

A Guide to Buying the best earplugs for airport workers

Airports carry several risky work environments where one is required to wear suitable personal protective equipment (PPE). It is a well-known fact that workers at small private aviation industry and busy metropolitan airports are expected to follow the safety protocols at their workplace.

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If require the Best Hearing Protection for this item, and do not want to read the entire article, below are my recommended ear protection.

Which are the best Earplugs For Airport Workers

For Airport Workers, the best ear plugs are 3M Peltor TacticalPro Communications Headset MT15H7F SV.

However, this will depend on several things. If you use them a lot, for example, if it is your principal job, or perhaps just minor use. Also, if you want to use these ear plugs for other things, like listen to music, or Answer Your Phone.

There are earplug options available, for example: Convenient Fitting, Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), Long-Lasting, Flexibility, and if you want earplugs or headphones. As you can see, there is a lot in picking the best fit.

effectiveness of their protective gear

Airports carry several risky work environments where one is required to wear suitable personal protective equipment (PPE). Workers at small private aviation industry and busy metropolitan airports are expected to follow the safety protocols at their workplace.

However, they must also be mindful about the effectiveness of their protective gear and hence when other better options are available, it is wise to consider purchasing them.

Planes are loud, and anybody working in proximity such as the mechanics, baggage handlers, fuel truck operators, and the catering companies working on the tarmac must consider protecting themselves from noise exposure to avoid issues related to hearing.

Often airline safety managers and airport workers are unsure which hearing protection device will be the most suitable and offer the best results. To clear up the confusion and help you decide, let's look at some general hearing protection devices available today.

Single-Use Earplugs 

These earplugs provide great comfort, convenience and performance to the workers and as the name suggests, they are disposable after one use. Single-use earplugs are available in a broad spectrum of styles and materials all the way from the latest contoured PU (polyurethane) foam earplugs to the 3 and a 1/2 decade old yellow PVC barrel earplug.

These earplugs range from lower-pressure foam style to the high- density earplugs with a maximum NRR capacity of 33dB. Incorporation of new designs and materials that support communication without barring the overall protection is an advancement in the single-use earplug design.

These earplugs come with or without cords. For workers exposed to the noise intermittently, corded earplugs may be a convenient choice, as they could be hung around their necks when not in use.

Multiple-Use Earplugs 

Multiple-use earplugs are way expensive than single-use earplugs, but in time could turn economical. These earplugs are made by moulding a variety of silicone materials, plastic and vinyl to feature a rigid stem for easy insertion and flexible flanges to facilitate a comfortable seal within the ear canal.

The process of insertion and removal is much easier in multiple-use styles, as rolling is not required compared to most single-use earplugs. Some types of multiple-use earplugs fit the entire ear, while others are made available in many sizes to cater towards different sizes and shapes of ear canals.

These are made from patented TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer). The multiple-use earplugs can be used for as long as 2 to 5 weeks upon proper maintenance. The detachable cord is a new handy feature that allows the workers to wear the earplugs corded or uncorded as they prefer.

Noises When Working In An Airport

The following infographic shows a list of the various noises when you are out and about. Any noise over 70-80db over a long period of time may cause damage to your hearing. A noise of over 120dB may cuase immediate harm to your ears

Banded Earplugs 

Banded earplugs are another option for multiple usage. For people moving in and out of noisy areas these type of earplugs are very useful as they are just a pair of earplugs basically held by a plastic band. Banded earplugs can be thought of as a hybrid between earplugs and earmuffs.

The ease in usage similar to earmuffs and the convenience and portability of earplugs are the reasons behind it. Banded earplugs also serve as an alternative during hot weather as earmuffs become uncomfortable.

Earmuffs

The Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR) is typically low in earmuffs compared to earplugs. As opposed to the highest rated earplug that carries an NRR of 33dB, the highest rated earmuffs in the market has an NRR of 30dB. Although it seems a little strange since the earmuffs look bulky and heavy, the earplug can block the ear canal completely to attenuate sound.

However, the earmuffs are great for usability and provide better comfort. There are many types of earmuffs. 

Passive Earmuffs 

Made from several materials, passive earmuffs block sound by the use of foam and other parts of the earcup. The headbands could be metal or plastic. Some users feel that plastic holds their shape properly, while others prefer metal as it is sturdier and provide the best wear.

The protection level of the product decreases when the earmuff bands are stretched out for increased comfort. Earmuffs should not slip around, rather it must be close fitting and secure to seal the ear tight.

Passive earmuffs for special applications have different styles such as cap-mounts to be fixed on hard hats, neckband earmuffs to wear at the back of the neck to couple with other protective gears, multi-position earmuffs for wearing over the head, behind the head or under the chin and folding earmuffs for easy portability and storage. Optional features in earmuffs include belt clips and carrying cases.

Uniform Attenuation Earmuffs 

This is a product with a fairly recent development. Apart from blocking noise, they make use of advanced acoustic technologies to cope with incoming sound while providing added benefits. Protection is maximised by the uniform attenuation of many important octave bands (250Hz to 4KHz). Users may hear warning signals and voices more naturally.

Electronic Earmuffs 

Besides blocking sound, electronic earmuffs modulate that sound electronically. It could be a case where the ambient sound is amplified to make the users hear the normal environmental sounds better, or it could be a two-way communication. Although some manufacturers are heavily investing on electronic earmuffs, it remains small in the market compared to other types of earmuffs.

A basic radio earmuff could cost a mere $60, while advanced aviation headsets are worth $300 or more. That being said, it is useful to note that majority of the standard electronic earmuffs work fine to block noise. However, for workers with repetitive jobs, products that can link to an mp3 player or a CD, if not an AM/FM radio earmuff, would be the ideal choice to kill the boredom and improve job satisfaction. 

To narrow down the selection process, safety managers could follow a practical approach, like requesting a small group of trustworthy workers to wear different styles of ear protection for a timeframe and see what works the best. To conduct this experiment, samples are usually provided by hearing protection salespeople.  

Airport workers and hearing Protection

Airport workers are exposed to loud noises all the time. This includes airport noise from:

  •  Towing planes, taxiing airplanes, and other aircraft operations
  •  Unmanned aerial vehicles;
  •  Ground support equipment;
  •  Passenger jet engines

The decibel level of these sounds can range between 95-120 dB. Airport workers who are regularly exposed to noise levels above 85 dB can experience hearing loss over time. Hearing damage is permanent and cannot be reversed. It is recommended that any worker with a noise exposure level of 85dB or greater wear ear protection when on the job.

Ear protection is for your protection.

Workers should start wearing ear protection at the first sound level above 85 dB and continue to wear ear protection when they are exposed at any level between these two levels.

This means that if you work near or on an airport runway, you need to start wearing ear protection at the low end of the 95-120 dB range (85dB) and continue to wear it as long as you are there. If you're off the runway, start with your highest sustained sound exposure level (generally 85dB but this can be different depending on where on the airport property you are located).

You can still hear what's going on around you.

People who often wear ear protection say that they feel better about the situation because they still hear normal sound levels around them, but they are protecting their hearing. Their ability to communicate with coworkers and with customers may be impaired, but ear protection will prevent long-term hearing damage.

Ear Protection is quick and easy to put on.

Ear protection is usually mounted on a headband or chin strap, so they are quick and easy to put on. Earplugs and ear muffs are the most commonly available forms of hearing protection. Earplugs can be inserted while on the job by rolling or folding them into small cones, using your fingers to gently push the plug into your ear canal, then inserting the plug until it is firmly seated in place. Ear muffs fit over your ears and head. Sometimes ear muffs have a visor or face shield that allows you to see what you're doing while keeping out loud noises.

You can still hear what's going on around you.

People who often wear ear protection say that they feel better about the situation because they still hear normal sound levels around them, but they are protecting their hearing. Their ability to communicate with coworkers and with customers may be impaired, but ear protection will prevent long-term hearing damage.

Ear protection is quick and easy to put on.

Ear protection is usually mounted on a headband or chin strap, so they are quick and easy to put on. Earplugs and ear muffs are the most commonly available forms of hearing protection. Earplugs can be inserted while on the job by rolling or folding them into small cones, using your fingers to gently push the plug into your ear canal, then inserting the plug until it is firmly seated in place.

Ear muffs fit over your ears and head. Sometimes ear muffs have a visor or face shield that allows you to see what you're doing while keeping out loud noises.

Ear protection comes in comfortable types.

People who suffer from discomfort due to ear protection often wear custom-made earmolds, which are small plastic or silicone forms that sit in your ears like hearing aids. Airports have several types of earplugs, which are also custom-made for noise reduction. Each plugs is designed to fit into different ear canals.

Ear protection is convenient.

Earplugs and ear muffs are the most commonly available forms of hearing protection. Earplugs can be inserted while on the job by rolling or folding them into small cones, using your fingers to gently push the plug into your ear canal, then inserting the plug until it is firmly seated in place. Ear muffs fit over your ears and head. Sometimes ear muffs have a visor or face shield that allows you to see what you're doing while keeping out loud noises.

Ear protection costs less than medical bills due to hearing loss.

People who suffer from hearing loss also pay more out-of-pocket for medical care, because the medical cost of treating hearing loss is far greater than ear protection costs. Ear protection can prevent any hearing loss from becoming permanent. Earplugs cost between $3 and $9 each; muffs around $20 each; including both earplugs and ear muffs, approximately $100 or less.

Your boss can't tell if you're wearing ear protection or not.

Some workers feel uncomfortable about wearing ear protection while on the job because they say that they get "reprimanded" by their supervisors if they are caught not wearing it but only have a small amount of hearing damage. This is a form of "self-reporting," even though it's not always the truth. It's best to keep your ears open and be honest about what you are and are not wearing.

Your coworkers will appreciate your wearing ear protection.

Many workers, and their supervisors, appreciate the fact that you are protecting your hearing while on the job. Earplugs and muffs are easy to wear, discreet from customers and coworkers, and can help you work in a better environment.

Ear protection is inexpensive, especially if you're buying it as a package with other protective gear for the job. Keep in mind that it's also generally a good idea to try to avoid going into environments where there is a lot of noise or an unknown amount of noise such as working at night.


Conclusion

Training on how to use hearing protection should be a part of your job safety training. Always be sure to wear hearing protection outside and inside your workplace. It's also important to research the costs associated with hearing loss and the importance of protecting your hearing.

Your employer will be happy to see that you are wearing hearing protection, and you'll be able to work in a healthier, safer environment.

 

Please Note: Just because an ear defender is marked, for example, "Gunshot" - it will still cover other things, like "explosions"

Protear Bluetooth Radio Headphones AM FM Noise Reduction Safety...
  • BLUETOOTH VERSION 4.3: Wok range 55 yard, take and answer calls hand-free.
  • ANSI S3.19 CERTIFIED NRR 25dB: Noise reduction rating (NRR) of 25(dB), conform to American Standard. Operate with rechargeable lithium battery(included).
  • RADIO AND PRESET: AM/FM auto and manual search stations, preset up to 40 channels.
  • MUSIC PLAYING: Bluetooth stream music wireless from your phone. switch prev/next song without taking your phone out of your pocket.
  • COMFORTABLE WEARING: Double layer soft foam and adjustable padded headband, offering comfortable wearing for all day working.
Peltor Sport SecureFit 400 Glasses, 3 Pack: Clear + Amber + Gray...
  • Includes 1 pair of outdoor grey lens glasses, 1 pair of indoor clear lens glasses, and 1 pair of amber lens glasses
  • Lightweight and flexible for a secure and comfortable fit
  • Color: Black
  • Suppresses gunshot noise while amplifying low-level sounds
3M Peltor TacticalPro Communications Headset MT15H7F SV, Hearing...
  • Amplifies low-level sounds while suppressing dangerous impulse noises
  • Protects hearing with a Noise Reduction Rating of 26 dB
  • Offers clear, ambient sound and voice recognition in noisy environments
  • Ability to be used with portable radios
  • Uses deep earcup design and soft ear cushions for all-day comfort

Last update on 2021-10-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Other Questions

Why do some airport workers wear ear defenders?

Airport workers, especially those who work near the planes, are more at risk of experiencing noise-induced hearing loss because of constant exposure to loud noises, therefore, they need to wear ear defenders. Ear defenders such as earplugs, earmuffs, or earmolds suppress the noise level in the surroundings, making it safer.

It depends on the user what kind of ear defender they want to use depending upon the comfort level. Foam earplugs provide noise reduction as high as 33 NRR, which makes them a brilliant choice. Combining earmuffs and earplugs is also a good option, as together they both provide greater NRR.

Can headphones be used as ear protection?

Yes, noise-canceling headphones can be used as ear protection if use them properly. Headphones block out the background noises and allow you to keep the music volume down, which helps protect the hearing. However, at the workplace or with airport workers, they can get distracted by the music from the headphones so it is better to get earplugs or earmuffs as ear protection.

Earplugs are comfortable, easy to carry, and fit perfectly in the ear canal, providing greater ear protection. Using passive noise-canceling headphones can also be a good idea because they provide soundproofing, but they can be a little uncomfortable because of how bulky they are.

Are headphones bad for your brain?

Headphones that use music to block out external noises can be bad for the brain. These headphones generate electromagnetic waves which can cause problems for the brain in the long term. Insulation from nerve fibers that bring impulses from the ear to the brain is withdrawn by high decibel noise waves.

Any ear infection caused because of ear protectors can also affect the brain. Excessive use of headphones can also result in problems like headache or sleeplessness. However, passive noise-canceling headphones are safe to use as they only use the material they are built with, to block out the noise.

References

If you require more information, please check these references

Noise Induced Hearing Loss: Among Male Airport Workers , article, "journals.sagepub.com", retrieved on, Wed 11-November-2020

A comparative study of hearing loss among public sector Airport workers and workers in a non-noisy workplace in Nigeria , article, "soehpon.org", retrieved on, Wed 11-November-2020

Prevalence of Hearing Loss and Tinnitus with Correlation to the Usage of Protective Hearing Equipment among Airport Workers , article, "www.jnsmonline.org", retrieved on, Wed 11-November-2020

About This Article 

Date : November 24, 2020

Author : Nick, Website Owner And Writer

Experience : Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”

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