TYPES OF HEARING PROTECTION
There are a wide variety of hearing protection products on the market, and your choice will depend on your intended use and personal preference. Soft foam earplugs offer noise protection with a high degree of comfort, and sit securely in the ear canal without exerting pressure. For this type of hearing protection to achieve a perfect fit, it is important that the earplugs are compressed before being inserted into the ear; when they then expand in the ear canal, they offer highly effective protection from noise. In contrast, ribbed plugs made from soft TPE do not need to be moulded beforehand. The flexible ribs adapt to the shape of the user’s ear canal and thus protect it against noise. Because the long-life material is easy to clean with water, this type of hearing protection can also be reused.
Banded earplugs offer an optimal type of hearing protection for fluctuating noise levels. The plugs, which are connected by a flexible band, can be quickly and easily inserted into the entrance of the ear canal as needed. The band is usually worn under the chin. Similarly easy to put on and take off are Moldex earmuffs. Since the softly cushioned earpieces cover the entire ear, this type of ear defender offers very good noise protection with a high degree of wearing comfort.
WHY HEARING PROTECTION IS IMPORTANT
Undesirable levels of noise can affect a person’s physical, mental and social wellbeing. Depending on its strength and duration, loud noise can lead to acute or chronic ear damage – regardless of whether it is disruptive machine noise or a favourite song played at full blast.
Noise deafness is one of the most common occupational health complaints. In order to reliably protect a worker’s hearing, ear protection should be available for anything above a sound pressure level of 80 dB. The law enforces the wearing of hearing protection from a sound pressure level of 85 dB and upwards.
SOUND INSULATION VALUES FOR HEARING PROTECTION
The insulation performance of hearing protection is measured in the unit decibel (dB). A distinction is made between the SNR value and the HML values. The SNR value (Single Number Rating) provides information about the protective effect of hearing protection products. It is an average insulation value which is calculated from all relevant frequencies. For example, earmuffs or earplugs with an SNR of 20 will reduce the noise level to which the wearer is exposed from 90 dB down to a tolerable 70 dB.