Hearing Protection

Hearing Protection

Devices for aural protection against irritating or harmful noises in the workplace and laboratory. Includes ear plugs, muffs, bands, dispensing stations, and more.

Hearing protection devices (HPDs) reduce the amount of noise that enters the ears and can help protect against tinnitus, hyperacusis, and other negative effects of noise exposure. Various types of HPDs are available, including ear muffs, ear plugs, electronic devices, and semi-insert products.

Many countries require interventions to control noise exposure risks in workplaces. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prescribes hearing conservation programs and the use of HPDs, along with signage to warn workers about noise level risk.

The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and healthcare professionals recommend HPDs when noise levels exceed 85dB.

What Is the Best Type of Hearing Protection?

The effectiveness of HPDs also depends on physical fit. Devices with airtight seals or deep ear canal placement provide the most noise attenuation. Barriers to achieving optimal protection include comfort, convenience, training, and beliefs and attitudes toward PPE.

Different Types of Hearing Protection

Many HPD options exist:

  • Ear muffs typically consist of two ear cups and a headband
  • Ear plugs fit in the ear canal; ear plugs may be pre-molded, formable, or roll-down style
  • Electronic HPDs reduce the sound that reaches the eardrum using a combination of electronic and structural components
  • Hearing enhancement protection systems provide sound protection while transmitting speech and other sounds
  • Canal caps are semi-insert devices with soft tips and are inserted or sit at the ear canal opening; these caps are connected by a lightweight band
  • The use of ear plugs under ear muffs is called dual hearing protection and is used for extremely high noise levels

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