The Importance of PPE Ear Protection
While it’s important to try and keep noise under control in the workplace, it’s not always possible to keep it to a safe level, and that’s when ear protection is essential. According to health and safety law, ear protectors should keep noise to below 85db in the ear, but it’s important not to cut out too much noise, as people need to still be aware of their surroundings. That’s why we offer different levels of ear protection to suit different environments.
Why Wear Hearing Protection?
Hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noises over time, such as industrial machinery, heavy construction equipment and vehicles, power tools, aeroplanes, gunfire, motorcycle and auto race tracks, sporting events, dental drills, fireworks, music concerts and even playing music too loudly through your headphones. Some people are more prone to hearing loss from high-level sound than others.
High-intensity noise causes widespread damage to the inner and outer hair cells and may trigger a condition called tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and temporary hearing loss. This can happen after just one concert, sporting event or a sudden loud sound like a firework or gunshot.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
The ear is made up of three parts: the outer, middle and inner ear. The outer part (the bit that’s visible) opens into the ear canal. Separating the ear canal from the middle ear is the eardrum. In the middle ear are small bones which help transport sound vibrations to the inner ear. In this part of the ear, the vibrations are converted to nerve impulses which the brain translates as a voice, music, banging, and so on.
If a noise is too shrill or deafening, it starts to kill the nerve endings in the inner ear. If you’re exposed to loud noise for too long, nerve endings will be destroyed. The more nerve endings that die, the more hearing you’ll lose. Unfortunately, there’s no way to restore life to dead nerve endings – the damage is everlasting. The more you’re exposed to loud noise, the more harmful it may be. What’s more, the nearer you are to the source of extreme sound, the more harmful it is.
When Should I Wear Hearing Protection?
You should wear a hearing protector if the noise or sound level at the workplace exceeds 85 decibels (A-weighted) or dBA. Hearing protectors lessen the noise exposure level and the risk of hearing loss.
Employers should provide their staff with ear defenders and other types of ear protection if:
- Extra protection is needed over what has already been achieved using noise control
- Other noise control methods are being developed alongside, as a short-term method
Hearing protection mustn’t be used as an alternative to control noise by technical and structural measures.
What Types of Hearing Protection Workwear Are Available?
Safety earplugs. These are inserted into the ear canal and are often pre-moulded (preformed) or mouldable (foam earplugs). You can purchase disposable, reusable or custom moulded earplugs.
Semi-insert earplugs. These include two earplugs held over the ends of the ear canal by a firm headband.
Earmuffs. These are made up of a sound-reducing material and soft ear cushions that fit around the ear and hard outer cups. A headband holds them together.
Our simplest form of ear protection is soft, inner ear plugs, which can be either disposable or reusable. If you have a lot of visitors to your site, our ear plug dispenser can be placed at the entrance so that everyone has some form of protection. These foam earplugs cost just pennies but offer excellent temporary protection. We also offer reusable foam earplugs on cords, which can be worn around the neck until they’re needed.
For more heavy-duty environments, over-ear defenders are usually the best option, and these are more comfortable to wear for long periods. These ear protectors conform to the standards of EN352-1 for hearing protection but are still lightweight and adjustable. We also supply banded ear protection sold in boxes of 20 pieces or a case of 24 boxes with an EN352-2 rating. These types of hearing protection feature comfortable foam cups on a flexible band which block the ear canal opening. As with the rest of our ear protection range, we sell individual or bulk ear protectors, making it easy to ensure all staff and visitors take care of their hearing.
How Do I Choose the Right Type of Hearing Protectors?
It really depends on the noise level, comfort as well as the worker and their environment. Additionally, the hearing protector must offer the right noise reduction. A good idea would be to provide a selection of different kinds of protectors.
In situations where noise exposure is sporadic, earmuffs are a good choice, as they’re more convenient than the bother of inserting and removing earplugs.
Need More PPE Personal Protective Equipment?
Essential Safety Wear is based in the UK and offers the highest quality PPE personal protective equipment products for around the workplace. Amongst our range, you’ll find respiratory masks, harnesses, first aid, head protection, eye protection and knee protection. Order online and we’ll dispatch quickly to your workplace or home, whether you need safety wear just for yourself, or for the entire company.