Suppose you want to avoid damage to your hearing caused by the noise produced on a construction site, in a factory, or any other environment. In that case, the ideal solution is eliminating the source or reducing the noise itself through ingenious methods.
How can you protect your hearing in the workplace?
However, this is not always possible, and often it is necessary to resort to the use of special protection for the ears, able to preserve hearing.
What Should You Know About Hearing Protection Devices?
According to safety regulations regarding noise present in a work environment, ear protection should be worn if the noise exceeds 85 decibels.
To prevent hearing damage, companies should follow a protocol for assessing the type of noise produced to equip workers with adequate hearing protection.
A person is more at risk of hearing damage if the countermeasures are not suitable for the context. Furthermore, it is also essential to ensure that personnel uses these precautions consistently because even short unprotected exposures could cause degenerative damage over time.
Radio earphones or music headphones are not suitable devices to replace the appropriate ear defenders.
Another important point before purchasing hearing protectors is always to check the technical documentation provided by the manufacturer.
Naturally, the various models must also offer certain ease of use and possibly be compatible with other protection and communication systems. Anti-noise devices must have a high level of IP protection and allow the person to hear any alarms or safety sirens.
How do you choose the right hearing protectors?
Choosing a hearing protection device depends on several factors, which should be well known before purchasing the product.
Among these, we must consider the intensity of the noise, the suitability of the protective device for the worker and the environment in which it will be used, the comfort it can offer to the user who wears it.
The product must be able to reduce the desired noise level effectively.
It must be said that the type of model also depends on personal taste, and therefore, it is advisable to test different devices before making a choice.
For example, suppose the noise is not continuous but intermittent. In that case, headphones are an ideal choice, as it would be impractical to insert and remove hearing protection plugs from the ears several times.
How do you take care of a hearing protection device?
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Regularly check the wear level of the protection device.
- Replace worn ear cushions or parts that have lost their flexibility.
- Replace the device when the headbands no longer hold the ear cushions snug to the ears.
- Disassemble the headphones for thorough cleaning.
- Wash the headphones in warm water with a non-aggressive liquid detergent, then rinse. Make sure that the sound-absorbing material of the ear cushions does not get wet.
- Use a soft brush to remove the dirt inside the ear cushions.
- Wring out excess moisture from the earplugs or pads and place them on a clean surface to dry. (First, consult the instruction manual if the earplugs are washable).
What are the various types of hearing protectors?
The earplugs are inserted directly into the ear canal. They can be preformed or moldable (foam caps). These products can be single-use, reusable or customized.
These plugs are also inserted into the ear canals but, at the same time, are held at the ends of the ears by a safety band.
They are headphones consisting of two cups made of sound-absorbing material and two soft ear cushions, which adapt to the ears. Both parts are held together by a flexible headband.
Electronic hearing protection
These particular headphones are able to cancel the high noise in an environment electronically.
In practice, the earmuffs in question are equipped with an electronic sound level modulation function, which eliminates harmful sounds and lets environmental ones pass, amplifying them and protecting the ears from sudden and annoying noises.
Electronic earmuffs are very popular with users who play ballistic sports.
Hi-Fi acoustic protection
Hi-Fi hearing protection devices filter out sounds in a specific range of frequencies, blocking sound waves at dangerous levels and letting harmless ones through.
Musicians often use these headphones because they clearly filter instruments and effectively reduce ambient noise.
White noise headphones
White noise headphones are a hybrid between a Hi-Fi protection device and an electronic type.
The peculiarity of this technology is that instead of filtering the sound waves, reducing some noises, and amplifying other sounds, white noise is produced.
These are sounds that are emitted using all audible frequencies and are called “white” because white, in the visual spectrum, represents the union of all possible chromatic frequencies.
If this reproduced noise were a color, our eyes would perceive it as white.
These frequencies can muffle annoying sound waves that could cause hearing damage.
White noise earmuffs are effective against short-term noise exposure.
Specific hearing protection for children
Children and infants may also need hearing protection to protect their hearing from loud and annoying noises, and obviously, an adult device is not suitable for this task.
There are specific earmuffs for children that are able to reduce particularly loud sounds, making the room acoustics favorable.
The models that can be found on the market are different, and therefore we invite you to test some of them to choose the one that best meets your needs and those of your child.
When should hearing protection be used?
According to several scientific studies, it is believed that the human ear can tolerate the noise of fewer than 85 decibels without being damaged. Once this threshold is exceeded, however, it is necessary to resort to acoustic protection measures to avoid permanent problems of the hearing system.
Hearing problems have also been shown to reduce attention and worsen intellectual and work performance.
Within a company, the legislation provides for the obligation to equip employees with hearing protection if it is not possible to reduce noise levels.
As we have seen, there are also other categories that need to use anti-noise devices: musicians, people attending a concert or motor sporting events, sleeping children, etc.
Some users use hearing protection simply to improve their lifestyle by isolating themselves from noise to increase the level of concentration, inducing sleep, and avoiding stress.
How can hearing protection be used effectively?
Things to do:
- Make sure your devices are able to offer adequate protection, such as reducing noise below the guard level (85 dB).
- Limit the use of hearing protectors to noisy activities and jobs only.
- Choose anti-noise devices suitable for your work environment, comfortable to wear, and easy to clean.
- Choose, where necessary, devices that can combine with other protective accessories, such as helmets, dust masks, protective goggles, etc.
- Offer a range of different hearing protectors, so employees can choose the one that best suits them.
Things not to do:
- Do not use hearing protectors that eliminate noise in a work environment; in this way, you may be too acoustically insulated and develop a certain reluctance to wear them.
- Do not make the use of hearing protectors mandatory in environments where the law does not require it.
- Avoid using worn or excessively worn devices that may not perform their protective function correctly.
What kind of maintenance does hearing protection need?
The type of maintenance varies according to the device model, although in general, it is advisable to follow some fundamental points to keep the level of efficiency at maximum performance:
- The anti-noise protectors must always be kept in good hygienic conditions; make sure all parts, especially those that come into contact with your ears, are clean. This will prevent malfunctions and reduce the risk of ear infections or allergies.
- Always check that the seals of the ear cups are not damaged and that they are able to provide the right fit to the ears.
- Examine the voltage level of the headphone bands before each use. Check that these are neither too tight, as they may be uncomfortable to wear, nor too loose, as they will not fit appropriately on the ears.
- If you have earplugs, make sure the texture of the materials is soft enough to easily compress them as you insert them into your ear canals.
- The level of cleanliness of earplugs must always be at the highest levels, as these are protections that are inserted directly into the ear canals. If dirty, they could cause infections and allergies.