Construction Ear Protection: Options for Construction Sites

How to protect your hearing on a construction site

These are in the following categories:

  • Standard Budget Ear Muffs
  • Standard High-end Ear Muffs
  • 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 built-in ear muffs
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In A Hurry?

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 Construction?

For working in Construction, the best ear plugs are 3M H10P3E Peltor Optime 105 Helmet Attachable Earmuff, Ear Protectors.

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.

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. Therefore, you see so many people with bad hearing when they are older. So 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 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.

Myths about hearing - On a Construction Site

Hearing loss in the construction industry is an issue that has been discussed recently. As construction employers are struggling with how to mitigate noise exposure for employees, employees are facing a dilemma of whether they should wear the proper gear or not. The following are myths related to work on a Construction Site

1) Myths 1 - Build Up A Resistance to Noise.

This myth means that the worker's hearing will become accustomed to the noise and minor noise related issues will not cause a problem for the worker.

The reality is that you can't build up your ears; it is just not possible to do. You are born with a certain hearing threshold, so higher sound levels can only impact your hearing with time and consistent overexposure.

2) Myths 2 - Noise Can Hurt Me Unless Its Loud

Not true! Even loud sounds are not the only things that can cause hearing loss, noises that are as low as 85 decibels can also damage your hearing. This is the reason why working with a sound level meter is recommended in Construction Sites.

3) Myths 3 - Earplugs Will Make Me Look Less Tough and Less Professional

Many workers in the construction industry are reluctant to use earplugs because they want to look tough or be seen as professional. Some men prefer not wearing them for fear that their co-workers will perceive them as weak or feminine.

However, hard hats and safety glasses are both safety gear that are seen as mandatory, and hearing protection is no different from these. Workers who wear earplugs can still look professional to their peers, but they just make sure they select earplugs that suit the individual's personality.

4) Myths 4 - You Can't Be A Hard Worker And Wear Hearing Protection

This is a big misconception regarding hearing protection. If the worker is actually wearing ear protectors on site and they are being diligent then they will still be able to perform their job as they need to. Not wearing proper protection when moving machinery or even using manual tools, like hammers will result in a lot more noise than expected.


Hearing Loss Caused By The Following 3 Things

Sound loss is caused by the following 3 things

1) Decibel Level 

The higher the sound, the higher the decibel level. That is why jobs in construction which require them to use power tools, chain saws and machinery tend to be the most dangerous for hearing loss due to the noise exposure.

2) Distance

The longer you are exposed to high sound levels, the more damage you can do to your hearing. Also the distance that you are from a source of loud sound is also a factor. For example, the noise exposure for someone who is 4ft away from a chain saw will be much less than someone who is working on a roof.

3) Time

The amount of exposure to high sound levels will determine how much damage they can do to your hearing. So if you're exposed to noise for a longer period of time, the more exposure you get to dangerous sound levels.

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 sites have 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 because of 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 handle 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 impede 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.

Disposable Earplugs

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 rise, and they are bad for the environment.

In-Ear Plugs

These plugs work similarly to disposable plugs. They fit in the ear, but can be washed 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 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 and the dedicated earmuffs.

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.

Top Pick – 3M WorkTunes With Bluetooth Technology

  • Noise Reduction Rating 24 NRR 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.

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.


Employers Responsibilities

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 selects, 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).
Visit: www.osha.gov
Call: 1-800-321-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, taking part in an inspection, or raising a safety and health issue with the employer.

Noises when working in Construction

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 cause immediate harm to your ears.

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

Recommended Construction Ear Protection

Peltor Sport Ultimate Hearing Protector, NRR 30 dB
  • 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
MSA Sordin Supreme Pro X with green cups - Neckband - Electronic...
  • slim design
  • especially for using under military-helmets
  • Compresses harmful noise to 82dB. Amplifies safe noise x 4 times
  • AUX input and AUX-cable for connection to external radios, mp3, phone etc.
  • equipped with the MSA Sordin Supreme Gel Comfort Earseals
3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector with Bluetooth Technology, 24...
  • Communication Direction: Two-Way
  • 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
Sellstrom Noise Cancelling Cap Mounted Safety Ear Muffs, 28dB NRR,...
  • Perfect fit: In conjunction to adjustable positioning and comfortable cuff pads suitable for extended use, ergonomically designed, EVA foam headband allows for a personalized fit that holds securely in place without slipping, to ensure maximum safety
  • Sturdy: Our ear muffs passively isolate noise, don’t require batteries and feature strong stainless steel wire swivel fork arms to ensure strength & long-lasting durability; In addition, the cap mounted design easily fits over hard hats & other headgear
  • Noise Suppression: Ear muffs can be the most effective equipment to protect your hearing from construction work, ground support, wood work etc.; Create a silent world around you with one of the highest noise reduction ratings for a cap mounted muff of 28db
  • Certified: Ideal for professional use, it is practical for shooting, hunting, sports events, study, steel & hardware work, manufacturing, oil drilling etc.; Independently tested and certified to NRR 28 (ANSI S3.19) and CSA Class A
  • Frequently Bought Together: Designed to mount on to most brands of slotted hard hats, pair our Cap Mounted Safety Ear Muffs with Sellstrom’s 4-point Ratchet Suspension Full Brim Hard Hat to ensure maximum safety in head protection and sound exposure

Last update on 2021-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Other Questions

Do ear defenders block out all noise?

Ear defenders are devices that block out sounds and noises from your ears. But do they have to block off every noise? No, we don't think so, and we say this because noise vibrations reach the eardrum through the air and your eardrum. This is called air conduction.

Your cranial bone also transmits vibrations to the eardrum. This is called bone conduction. The eardrum passes the vibrations to the middle and inner ears. These signals are then passed to the brain. The brain converts the signals into sound. In simple terms, ear defenders cannot and do not block all noise.

How much noise do earmuffs block?

Earmuffs can be used in place of earplugs, but it is your preference that matters. Earmuffs block as much noise as possible. Earmuffs are not the same as earplugs, but they perform very similar functions. Earmuffs are best for blocking high-frequency noises, while earplugs are better for low-frequency noise.

What is the highest dB for ear muffs?

Like we’ve mentioned earlier, earmuffs are best used to block the noise of high frequency, and so it can block as high as 20 to 25 decibels. But the highest dB for ear muffs is 31. Under normal circumstances, it should not get to that, but if it does, 31 is its highest.


If you require more information, please check these references

Reelable ear plugs for construction helmets , article, “patents.google.com”, retrieved on, Mon 04-May-2020 

Ear-protection cup for ear muffs or head-phones , article,“patents.google.com”, retrieved on, Mon 04-May-2020 

Ear protection cap , article,“patents.google.com”, retrieved on, Mon 04-May-2020

About This Article 

Date : July 25, 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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