Hearing protection devices are used to control high-level noise hazards when other hazard control methods like engineering and administrative controls can not decrease the noise level. They may come in the form of earplugs or earmuffs.
In order to know that you are exposed to high-level noise hazards, then you should measure the noise level from the sources at your workplace. Each noise source has different nature. It could expose noise hazards in an impulsive, intermittent, or even continuous manner.
Besides the two equipment, there is another hearing protection device available in the market, e.g. canal caps.
There are several factors that should be considered when we will select which hearing protection devices are suitable for our purposes.
1. Earmuffs are hearing protection devices that cover the whole part of the ears including the external part. They are fitted on the head. Earmuffs are equipped with cups that are lined with auditory foam and able to reduce the noise level by 15 to 30 decibels.
To protect workers from high-level noise (105 decibels or above) exposure, earmuffs are usually worn together with earplugs.
2. Earplugs are designed with different sizes to fit different ear canal sizes. Earplugs are available in the form of formable or foam earplugs. They are able to seal the ears completely because they expand when filled into the ear canals.
3. Canal caps cover the ear canal at its opening. Unfortunately, canal caps do not provide good protection on ears as earmuffs and earplugs.
After knowing the types of hearing protection devices, then we should consider some factors before making any selection.
a. Choose hearing protection devices that have good seal capability to avoid air entrance.
b. Do not ignore your convenience and comport when the hearing protection device is used.
c. In order to keep communication among workers run smoothly, select hearing protection device that is easy to be used and removed when workers need to communicate.
Do not forget to keep earplug cleanliness because it directly relates to ear health. Replace dirty earplugs as soon as possible and do not re-use them because of an ear infection potential hazard. Read the manufacturer’s manual clearly on when we should make a replacement of the earplug.
Whenever possible prepare one ear muff for each worker and avoid using the same ear protection for several workers. If it is not possible, make a regular clean-up schedule. Use soap and water to wash earmuffs.
Besides making a regular clean-up schedule, do not forget to inspect them regularly to find defects. Replace ear muffs when you find defects.