Best Ear Protection For Power Tools

by | Dec 2, 2019

In A Hurry?

If you need Best Ear Protection For Power Tools and do not have the time to read the article, then below are my recommendations! Carry on reading to find out why these choices were made

Introduction – Ear Protection

When working with power tools, safety has to always be a primary consideration. Everyone wears safety goggles to protect their eyes but less people wear ear muffs or plugs to protect their hearing.

Power tools make very loud sounds, which will damage your hearing over time. This damage is not repairable. All of this can easily be avoided by wearing the best ear protection for using power tools. They are inexpensive and will last you for years!

This article will give you all of the information that you need to help you choose the right pair of ear defenders for when working with power tools, as well as making some great suggestions

Noise Reduction Rating (NNR) – Measuring Ear Protection When Using Power Tools

When you wear headphones and earplugs, they will block off some of the external sounds. But how do you know if they are blocking enough of these sounds, and how do you know if you actually need them at all?

Well, power tools by their nature are going to be loud. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of America recommend that hearing protection is worn when working in an environment of over 85dB. (See the infographic below for some idea of how loud every day’s sounds are). You can also get free sound meters for your smartphone. These will give you a reasonable idea of how loud noises are if you want to be a little more accurate

As a rule of thumb, when talking to someone who is at a distance of arm’s length, you should not have to raise your voice. If you do need to raise your voice, then you should be wearing ear protection. Almost all power tools are way over 85dB in volume. So get yourself some suitable ear protectors if you are going to be using power tools

Earmuffs and plugs have an NNR rating (Noise Reduction Rating). This measurement tells you how much a sound is reduced when wearing the ear protection. One point of NNR equals 1 decibel (dB) reduction in sound

So if you are wearing a set of 25NNR ear muffs in a very noisy environment of 100 decibels, your ears will pick up (100-25) 75dB of that sound, which is well with the safe limits. Proper ear protection will generally be in the range of 15-30 on the NNR scale.

 

Features To Look For In Ear Protectors

When you are buying ear protection, the main criteria usually is how much sound they block out. But there are a lot of other nice to have features that you may want to consider. Some of them are listed below

  • High NNR – This is what the ear protection is for. It needs to be suitable for power tools so should have an NNR of 20+
  • Comfortable – You may have to wear the ear muffs for long periods of time, so you want the earmuffs to be padded and also the headband.
  • Hardhat – If the earmuff has to be used in conjunction with a hardhat, the headband must be able to go under, or behind the hard hat.
  • Easy height adjustment – allowing the muffs to be placed at the correct height for the size of your head, giving the maximum hearing protection
  • Speakers – Headphones with speaker can will enable you to listen to the radio, music or phone calls when you are wearing them
  • Microphone – with an integrated microphone, you can issue voice commands to the unit. For playing music or answering phone calls.
  • Bluetooth – Allows you to pair the headset with your smartphone. Doing this allows you to stream music, hear alarms and make phone calls without having to touch your cell phone
  • Ariel – Allows you to get better radio reception

But again the feature that is most important is the amount of sound that is blocked

Working safely with power tools

Typical Power Tool Volumes

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that hearing protection should be used if the volume is above 85dB for a period of time. Below are some power tools and their average volumes, as you can see, they are all above the safe limit for hearing. Having hearing protection with an NNR of 25+ would bring all of these to safe levels.

  • Muffler 90dB
  • Screw Driver 91dB
  • Orbital Sander 92dB
  • Drill 93dB
  • Jig Saw 98dB
  • Grinder 100dB
  • Miter Saw 104dB
  • Hammer Drill 105dB
  • Circular Saw 106dB
  • Reciprocating Saw 105dB
  • Impact Wrench 107dB

How Power Tools Damage Hearing

Your hearing ins a very delicate sense. Basically it works by vibrations in the air hitting your eardrum. This vibrates tiny hairs in the inner ear, and the brain senses these vibrations and converts them into what you perceive as sound.

When you are a child, your hearing is excellent, everything is generally in good working order. But as we are exposed to loud noises (and some other external factors like blows to the head), some of these thousands of hairs can break off. Each one represents a tiny amount of damage that is done to your hearing.

Each individual breakage that you get will be unnoticeable to you, but as more and more damage is done, it starts to become noticeable – and this damage is accumulative. That’s why your kids can hear the TV fine, but your older relatives have hearing problems. All the damage that has occurred to their ears through their life has built up until they have trouble hearing.

Anyone exposed to loud noise more often will have worse hearing, for example people who shoot, and of course people who use noisy power tools.

You will notice that other than hearing aids, there is not much that can be done for people with damaged hearing. If you have it, it can also reduce your job opportunities. Some jobs do not allow the hard of hearing for safety reasons. Also, if you interview two job applicants who were very similar, but one of them was hard of hearing, which one would you hire?

Hearing need not be a problem, wearing ear protection when using power tools is not difficult or expensive, so save your hearing now!

Safety rules for using power tools

Recommended Earmuffs 3M WorkTunes With Bluetooth Technology

My recommended choice for ear protection when using power tools is the 3M WorkTunes With Bluetooth Technology. These ear muffs cover just about everything mentioned and is a very reasonable price

  • Noise Reduction Rating 24 NNR 24 to help protect your hearing
  • Integrated Microphone Make and take phone calls without having to re-move the headset.
  • Hi-Fi Sound 40 mm high-fidelity speakers for premium sound quality
  • Bluetooth Technology stream music from mobile phones or other Blue-tooth devices.

Conclusions - Best Ear Protection For Power Tools

In conclusion, the “power” in power tools causes these devices to make a lot of noise. This noise WILL damage your hearing over time as you are exposed to more loud noises.

Your hearing is very delicate and cannot really be repaired once it has been damaged, so it is worth looking after. You do not want to be like me in a few years and be continually raising the TV volume because the talking is too quiet, and you can’t hear it, then lowering the volume again because the music is too loud.

Wearing geed ear protection when using power tools is not difficult! Anyone can do it. Also, ear protection is not expensive and will last you many years.

So what is your excuse for not using it? Get some excellent ear protection for when you are using your power tools now!

Recommended Products – Best Ear Protection For Power Tools

So now you know a little bit more about ear protection and power tools. Below is my list of recommended ear and some eye protection that you should be using.

The choices should suit everyone’s budget, and the type of project you are working on. For most handheld power tools, simple earmuffs and eye goggles will suffice. However in some cases when using very powerful tools you may need ear protection with a hard hat and full faceguard.

If you choose one of the recommendations below, you will be getting a long-lasting piece of safety equipment

Peltor Sport Ultimate Hearing Protector, NRR 30 dB, Ear...
186 Reviews
Peltor Sport Ultimate Hearing Protector, NRR 30 dB, Ear...
  • Peltor Sport's highest noise reducing earmuff at NRR of 30 dB
  • Adjustable, vented headband design reduces heat build and improves comfort when worn with caps & hats
  • Lightweight design for comfort and extended wear
  • Comfortable foam ear cushions
  • Contains 1-Earmuff
Sale
3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector with Bluetooth...
3,492 Reviews
3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector with Bluetooth...
  • NRR of 24 dB (Noise Reduction Rating)
  • Bluetooth Technology Lets You Seamlessly Stream Entertainment From Your Mobile Phone and Any Other Bluetooth Enabled Device
  • High Fidelity Speakers Provide Premium Sound Quality
  • INTEGRATED MICROPHONE lets you make and take phone calls without removing the hearing protection
  • CORD AND ANTENNA FREE design lets you move easily on the job
TR Industrial Forestry Safety Helmet and Hearing Protection...
1,781 Reviews
TR Industrial Forestry Safety Helmet and Hearing Protection...
  • 5 in 1 safety helmet comes with helmet, adjustable/removable earmuffs, plastic visor, and mesh visor, providing dynamic protection for any job
  • Provides the protection you need when using chainsaws, brush cutters, and trimmers, ideal for forestry type work
  • Secures firmly on head and convenient dial knob makes it easy to adjust the circumference 20 - 24.5 inches (52-62 centimeters)
  • Lightweight, interchangeable mesh and plastic visors provide shielding from debris
  • All parts are ANSI and CE approved - Helmet carries a Z89.1-2003 ANSI rating
Titus 2 Series - 34 NRR Slim-Line Hearing Protection & G26...
14 Reviews
Titus 2 Series - 34 NRR Slim-Line Hearing Protection & G26...
  • Titus Range Gear Bundle - Stay Organized & Keep Your Equipment Clean And Safe!
  • Silence Any Environment - Titus 2 Series Earmuffs(34db NRR) Fully Adjustable Struts (One Size Fits All) CE EN 352-1 ANSI S3.19 Approved, High Quality And Durable - Ready For Shooting and Other Loud Environments
  • Protect Your Eyes – Protect Your Eyes – Sport Safety Glasses - Perfect For Riding, Shooting, and General Safety Black and Yellow Impact Resistant Frame Yellow Impact/Scratch Resistant, UV400 Shatterproof Polycarbonate Lenses, One Piece Lens With Integrated Side Sheilds Padding Material - Hypo-Allergenic Skin Safe (TPR) Thermoplastic Rubber DOT Approved for motorcycling, ANSI & CE Approved as protective safety Glasses. Exceeds ANSI Z87.1 & Z80.3 Standards
  • Industrial Quality Ready For Abuse - Ready for Construction, Shooting, Hunting, Industrial Work, or even Heavy Machinery
  • Includes: Earmuffs, Range Glasses, Microfiber Glasses Pouch & Fitted Dual Compartment Storage Case.
DeWalt DPG82-21 Concealer SAFETY Goggle - Smoke Anti-Fog...
64 Reviews
DeWalt DPG82-21 Concealer SAFETY Goggle - Smoke Anti-Fog...
  • DeWalt tough Coat hard coated lens provides tough protection against scratches
  • DeWalt XtraClear anti-fog lens coating provides tough protection against fogging
  • Soft, dual injected rubber conforms to the face to provide a high level protection from dust and debris
  • Adjustable, elastic cloth head strap provides a comfortable fit
  • Ventilation channels allow breathability and added protection against fogging
Galeton 9200580 Ranger Safety Goggles with Vented Frame, Fit...
132 Reviews
Galeton 9200580 Ranger Safety Goggles with Vented Frame, Fit...
  • Extremely comfortable, close fitting with wide viewing area
  • Adjustable strap swivels to allow custom fit
  • Soft and flexible frame with venting
  • Meet ansi specifications

People Also Ask

Are ear plugs better than earmuffs?

Earplugs offer greater protection from sound than earmuffs, as they fit directly into the ear canal, blocking more noise. Earmuffs however block enough noise so as to still protect your hearing. They also tend to be more comfortable over a period of time and offer some protection to the ear from flying pieces of debris. Most people find that when working with power tools ear muffs are the better choice, but it is really down to each individuals preferences

What could prevent earmuffs from providing your ears good protection from noise?

Earmuffs need to go over the whole ear and form an airtight seal around them. A headband connects the two earmuffs and holds them in place. If the earmuffs are too small, or the headband is not adjusted correctly then the seal is not successfully made, so the amount of sound blocked is less than expected.

In a very noisy environment, what is the best ear protection?

To give your ears the best level of protection from sound, the best solution is to wear a pair of in-ear plugs, with a good set of earmuffs over the top of them. This gives you two levels of protection from loud sounds.

The Noise reduction (NNR) is not the values of the two sets of ear protection combined however. You just add 5-10db to the best pair.

For example, if you had earplugs rated 30 NNR and muffs rated 25 NNR, then the effective sound reduction is 35-40dB, not 55dB. Even though this is the case, it is still blocking a lot of the external sounds giving excellent protection

Hand Tools and Power Tools Safety Training

References

If you require more information, please check these references

onlinelibrary.wiley.com , article, “Test of the health promotion model as a causal model of construction workers’ use of hearing protection”, retrieved on, Mon 02-December-2019
www.tandfonline.com , article, “Ear muff acceptance among sawmill workers”, retrieved on, Mon 02-December-2019
link.springer.com , article, “Hearing loss among operating engineers in American construction industry”, retrieved on, Mon 02-December-2019

Nick Le Page Profile

About the author

Nick is a Computer programmer with 25 years experience working in the Industry. Past clients include The BBC, Natwest, British Rail.and Torbay Council.

Nick has suffered with Tinnitus for over 25 years

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