Pair with Bluetooth and microphone for listening to music and taking calls.
Pair which reduces loud noises, but still allows you to hear and talk
Ear Muffs that attach to hard hat
Hard Hat with buit-in ear muffs
Why Do We Need Construction Hearing Protection
Construction sites are a noisy place, and there is a lot of equipment that can cause hearing damage to anyone that is near it. When you are exposed to deafening noises, or loud noises over a prolonged period. Then it can damage your hearing. You probably will not notice this at first, as each time your hearing is damaged, it is usually by a tiny unnoticeable amount.
Over several years the without construction earmuffs, damage accumulates, until you have bad hearing, or maybe tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Once you have damaged hearing, there is very little you can do about it. This is why you see so many people with bad hearing when they are older.
This is why it is imperative that you get earplugs for construction workers that are available for the industry
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) gives the following guidelines as to how long you may be exposed to various sounds
115 dB ~30 sec
112 dB ~1 min)
109 dB < 2 min)
106 dB < 4 min
103 dB 7.5 mins
100 dB 15 minutes
97 dB 30 minutes
94 dB 1Hour
91 dB 2 hours
88 dB 4 hours
85 dB 8 hours
82 dB 16 hours
To give you some idea of how loud these sounds are, the infographic below shows the volume of some everyday sounds.
Construction Ear Protection – Law and construction
Do you have to wear a hard hat?
Under the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992, employers have to provide workers with a hard hat. It also ensures employees are required to wear a hard hat on site where there is a risk of head injuries. This extends to visitors too.
Do you have to wear hearing protection?
It is recommended that workplace noise on the construction site be below 85 dB, over an eight hour period (weighted average). If the sound levels are higher than this, then hearing protection must be provided.
If a person is exposed to a jackhammer or a stud welder, damage can happen in a little as an hour, with repeated exposures. (These noises are about 100 dB in volume)
Health and safety inspectors will check sounds with a sound level meter, to check volumes. If you do not have access to one of these, you can get a ROUGH estimate using a decibel meter application on a Smartphone.
The other standard rough measure of sound, is to stand 2-3 feet away from a co-worker. If you have to raise your voice to be heard at this distance, then the noise is over 80dB, and hearing protection should be worn
What sort of equipment needs hearing protection on a construction site?
The following items on construction siteshave been measured to be above 85dB in volume, and therefore need hearing protection
Backhoe, Belt sander, forklift, nail gun, electric grinder, bulldozer, jackhammer, chain saw.
Any other equipment that has similar volumes to these will also need ear muffs
annual lost production due to hearing damage – Best Construction Hearing Protection
It is estimated that over $240 million is spent annually on compensation for hearing loss. (2017 – U.S. Department of Labor). So if you are responsible for the health and safety of anyone working on a construction site, make sure ear muffs are worn in that noisy environment.
Types Of ear muff on a construction site
Because it is illegal not to wear a hard hat, there are limits to what sort of hearing protection you can use. Basically, the muff type ear defenders may not be suitable – if they get in the way of the hard hat. But if they do not, then they are the best choice as ear protection.
This leaves you with muffs that attach to the hard hat and types of in-ear plugs. Of course should you be in an area where you do not need a hard hat, muffs are permissible
These are the cheapest quick solution to noise problems. One size fits all and it’s the cheapest. However, these can only be worn once and are then thrown away. So the costs start to rise, and they are bad for the environment
These plugs work in a similar way to disposable plugs. They fit in the ear, but can be wash and reused. These plugs are a lot better than disposable plugs, and the extra cost is soon recuperated as each person only needs one pair.
The better quality hi-fidelity version of these plugs only reduce the volume of the loudest sounds. This means that you can still have conversations with your work colleagues
Moldable ear plugs
These are balls of soft silicone or wax, that are press carefully into the ear, creating a seal. These will stop a lot of the sound, and will also stop water or other debris going into the ear.
This type of earplug can be used with ear muffs – Simply put the muff over the wax plugs when they are in your ears. This gives a second level of ear protection should there be something that is particularly loud on the site.
The disadvantages are that they need to be thrown away after a couple of wears, or as soon as they get dirty. This is again bad for the environment, and pushes the long term price up.
Hard hat with ear muffs
Probably the best ear plugs for construction workers, when they have to wear a hard hat. These are affixed to the side of the hat, so that the hat holds them in place. Convenient, but do network as well as the dedicated ear muffs
Ear Muffs that attach to the hard hat
Pretty much the same as above. If you already have a hard hat, these will attach to it to protect your ears.
Standard Budget Ear Muffs
These are inexpensive ear muffs that will protect your hearing while you work, efficient and comfortable. May not work when wearing a hard hat, as the muffs go straight over the top of your head, getting in the way
Bluetooth Ear Muffs with a microphone.
These are very similar to the standard earmuffs above, except they have a few extra features. These muffs have Bluetooth speakers and a microphone built-in. This allows you to take phone calls, if you pair it with your smartphone, or stream music to the headset.
Noise Reduction Rating 24 NNR 24 to help protect your hearing
Integrated Microphone Make and take phone calls without having to remove the headset.
Hi-Fi Sound 40 mm high-fidelity speakers for premium sound quality.
Bluetooth Technology stream music from mobile phones or other Bluetooth devices.
3M WorkTunes Hearing Protection with Bluetooth Long Term
Best Hearing Protection For Construction
Other things to reduce noise on a construction site
Apart from hearing protection, there are three other things that can be done on a construction site to reduce sound. (Or rather the sound that reaches your ears)
Block it. Building temporary barriers with plywood, or other barrier material will reduce the amount of sound that is transmitted
Move it. Move noisy equipment as far as possible from people working on the constructions site
Reduce it. Hire or buy equipment that is less noisy than what you currently have. Cheaper equipment can sometimes be noisier than it needs to be.
If you are regularly exposed to a noisy environment, then your employer should provide yearly hearing tests to monitor your hearing.
If your work environment seems too loud, speak to your union representative, and supervisors, to see if something can be done about it.
“Your employer is responsible for selecting, fitting, and maintaining hearing protective devices and must provide them to you at no cost and train you in their use (29 CFR 1926.101).”
Failing that you can contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees who use their rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). These rights include filing an OSHA complaint, participating in an inspection, or raising a safety and health issue with the employer.
Nick is a Computer programmer with 25 years experience working in the Industry. Mainly using Microsoft products I have produced systems for several blue chip companies including The BBC, Natwest, British Rail.and Torbay Council.