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The Importance Of Hearing Protection For Factory Workers

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Which are the best Earplugs for Industrial Workers?

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

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.

The Importance Of Hearing Protection For Factory Workers

With hearing protection, most people’s first thought would immediately go to industrial workers; whether it be airport workers, factory workers, manufacturing workers, they are the leading examples of hearing protection.

Most employers do at least recognize and supply with some kind of earplugs or earmuffs to protect hearing. Still, they don’t always fit for the level of noise a worker is exposed to, and all have their advantages and disadvantages. 

Unbelievably, certain employers are careless in providing any type of hearing protection or earplugs. There is a percentage of workers who just don’t like wearing them for their own reasons and neglect their own hearing protection.

Who’s at risk?

Who is at the highest risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) from their job? Here is a list of why previously mentioned occupations are susceptible to hearing damage

  • Construction Workers: One of the largest groups to declare hearing loss claims each year, construction workers are subjected to noise during the whole day on construction sites from machinery, heavy vehicles, and power tools.

  • Factory Workers: The ongoing din of machinery, tools, and people yelling all over makes manufacturing one of the most prevalent industries associated with hearing loss.

  • Truck Drivers: Sitting in a loud truck for several hours a day could affect anyone’s hearing. You have to count in the engine noise, noise from the brakes, the wind noise, noise from handsfree and other communication devices, tire/road noise, and noise from other vehicles.

  • Rail Transport Employees: A study in Australia in 2006 found that rail workers suffered hearing loss at 12 times the average national rate. The research has also shown that the possibility of deafness for rail transport employees was a lot higher than those of other transport types (air and water).

Can you rely on hearing protection alone when carrying out noisy work?

You should not rely on hearing protection alone to control noise exposure. Hearing protection serves as extra protection after using noise control techniques (such as terminating noisy tasks, substituting quieter processes, replacing loud equipment, and removing people from noisy areas)

If hearing protection is still necessary after taking these measures:

  • be sure the protectors provided give sufficient protection – try at least to get below 85 dB(A), but don’t provide too much protection as protectors which cut out too much noise will make it hard to keep a conversation, and that will result in an unwillingness to wear them

  • select protectors which are optimal for the working environment – think about how hygienic and comfy they are

  • consider how they will be worn with other protective equipment like hard hats and protective goggles

  • provide a variety of protectors so that employees can choose ones which suit them

  • make sure your employees are educated about noise and trained in how and when to use the hearing protectors

  • make sure your workers have their hearing regularly tested via annual audiometry exams and questionnaires

Noises When doing Industrial Work

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

Types of Hearing Protection for Workers

The kind of hearing protection device to choose will rely on the amount and loudness of the noise you’re exposed to, workplace regulations, and what’s comfortable to wear. By law, hearing protection devices have to be labeled with a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) based on their capability to reduce noise. But bear in mind that the best hearing protection isn’t the one with the highest Noise Reduction Rating, but the one that a person will continually wear when they are exposed to loud noise.

Most common types of protection

Foam earplugs - Definitely the cheapest option out there; they are soft and comfortable. Foam earplugs are the most popular earplugs today. They come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Usually, they are the most efficient for blocking noise. However, since they are made of porous material, they're a breeding ground for bacteria, so you have to replace them regularly.  The advantage is that they Fit many different ear canals, and they are convenient and disposable. Their disadvantage would be that they won’t provide proper protection if not inserted correctly, and the user may not even realize when the plug doesn’t make a good seal.

Silicone plugs - Soft silicone plugs are light, comfortable, and reusable (just rinse them in cold water). Some people find them less effective at filtering out noise than other types, but it’s all up to the person. They usually are a bit pricey. Their pros are that they come in different sizes, they are reusable, and pretty convenient. Cons would be that they offer worse protection than foam ones and you’ll have to wash them regularly.

Earmuffs - They are incredibly easy to use, unlike foam earplugs. Besides protecting the ear canal, they also protect the entire ear. Earmuffs can be combined with earplugs for extra protection. The good thing is that one size fits all, they are comfortable to wear for more extended periods, but the disadvantage is that they can get warm in hot working environments or during the summer. Earmuffs may also not fit very well with protective headgear and goggles. In addition to this, to communicate,  a worker will remove them or remove one ear, exposing them to damaging noise volumes.

Custom earmolds - Made to fit perfectly in the user’s ear. They are reusable, washable, and pretty much ideal for long-term use. They can be made to reduce sounds over certain decibels, so you can normally hear conversations while still protecting your ears from loud machinery or construction. They cost more than foam earplugs, but the good thing is that the price is often covered through an employee insurance plan.

Final words

Certain high decibel exposures may be unavoidable to carry out the tasks required for some operations, but that doesn’t mean that employees do not require extra protection, and employers must have that in consideration.  What workers do in their free time, like attending a rock concert, go to a shooting range or other high sound exposures is their decision, but noise protection at industrial work is mandatory.

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.

Other Questions

How can I Protect my Hearing at Work?

Some working environments are very noisy. Steel factories, airports, and mills are good examples of typical noisy work environments. You can't survive in such an environment for long unless you protect your hearing.

Safety and regulation authorities recommend the best ear protection for such noisy workplaces. They include earplugs and earmuffs. Both serve the same purpose, but they look different. Earplugs sit inside the ear, giving you comfort and ambient noise reduction. While earmuffs cover the whole ear from outside.

Earplugs are light in weight, durable, and portable. Recommended as the best for factory use due to their simplicity.

Is there an alternative to earplugs?

Earplugs are hearing protection devices placed inside the ear. They are of different types and materials. Some people don't like them because they feel like foreign objects inside the ear. Due to this discomfort, people look for other alternatives that serve the same purpose.

Alternatives for earplugs are available. They include sound panels, a white machine, headbands for swimming, noise-canceling headphones, isolation headphones, and earmuffs.

In environments such as factories, earplugs are best. Because they are easy to use, durable, comfortable, and portable.

Are there any earplugs that block all noise?

Earplugs reduce noise getting into your ears. When they completely block noise, your ears become numb. So, there are no earplugs that completely block noise because of the said reason.

Noise Reduction Rate (NRR) is the level at which earplugs can reduce noise. The best earplugs have decibels of between 21and 34. That’s according health and safety regulations.

Best earplugs reduce surrounding and ambient sound while still keeping your ears comfortable. They balance noise inside and outside your ear. They have silicone material, which allows them to fit well inside the ear without slipping.

Sale
3M - 93045937254 Peltor X3A Over-the-Head Ear Muffs, Noise Protection,...
  • 28 dB NOISE REDUCTION RATING: Over the head hearing protection with NRR) of 28 dB for moderate to high noise exposures
  • ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES: New innovative foam ear cup inserts and spacers help improve attenuation along with new ear cushion foam technology for an effective acoustic seal and reliable protection
  • COMFORTABLE: Wide, soft foam ear cushions and ear cup tilting pivot points designed for high comfort and an effective acoustic seal with the head
  • EXTENDED COMFORT: Internal stainless steel wire in headband helps maintain consistent force over an 8 hour period for extended comfort; Twin headband design helps reduce heat buildup
  • DURABLE: ABS plastic cups create a rigid, high strength and impact resistant earmuff to handle tough environments
TR Industrial TR88011 Hard Hat Forestry Safety Helmet & Ear Muffs
  • 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
Sale
Husqvarna 592752601 Forest Head Protection Helmet
  • UV protected Orange hard hat - one size fits most
  • Adjustable 6-point suspension system and slip ratchet adjustment
  • Includes: face visor, 25 db (a) NRR hearing protectors, rain shield and rain neck protector
  • New Hi-Viz Orange color for improved visibility and egyptian Cotton core sweatband with porous coating for maximum sweat absorption
  • Meets and exceeds isea/ ANSI Z89.1-2014 type I with electrical insulation - rated to class E
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 2020-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

References

If you require more information, please check these references

Industrial Noise And Its Effects On Humans Pdf , article, "www.researchgate.net", retrieved on, Tue 10-November-2020

Comparative study of attenuation measurement of hearing protection devices by real ear attenuation at threshold method , article, "www.indianjotol.org", retrieved on, Tue 10-November-2020

Signal Detection in Industrial Noise: Effects of Noise Exposure History, Hearing Loss, and the Use of Ear Protection , article, "www.tandfonline.com", retrieved on, Tue 10-November-2020

Author: Nick

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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