Working in loud environments over long periods of time can result in hearing loss. The most effective way to prevent hearing loss is to prevent or eliminate noise at the source. Purchase quieter machinery. Install engineered controls such as buffer walls or muffling equipment. If this is not possible, use administrative controls such as rotating tasks to minimize the length of time a worker is exposed to noise. If a worker has to be exposed to noise, he or she must wear the right hearing protection.
Hearing Loss Prevention
There are several varieties of hearing protection available. Choosing the best model for your specific needs is important to your overall safety.
An earplug is a device worn in the external ear canal. The earplug protects the inner ear by blocking and reducing noise levels. Earplugs can be custom-molded to fit the individual wearer. Earplugs can be made from vinyl, silicone, elastomer formulations, cotton, wax, spun glass wool and slow-recovery closed-cell foam.
A semi-insert earplug is a device worn against the opening of the external ear canal. The semi-insert earplug works in much the same way as plugging your ears with your fingers. Semi-insert earplugs are made in a one-size-fits-all method. The device is held in place with a lightweight headband.
An earmuff is a device that completely encloses the outer ear and seals against the head with a cushion. Composed of a headband and two ear cups that are usually made of plastic. The headband may be made of metal or plastic. The cushion inside the ear cup is usually made of foam or it may be filled with fluid. Most earmuffs have a lining inside the ear cup to absorb the sound that is transmitted through the shell of the ear cup. Some earmuffs are designed so that the headband can be worn over the head, behind the neck, or under the chin. Some earmuffs are designed to fit over hard hats.
The most effective way to protect against hearing loss, is to wear hearing protection 100% of the time.
Learn more: Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss Fact Sheet
Learn more: Preventing Noise Exposure Fact Sheet