We live in a day and age where we are more aware about hearing protection than we were even 20 years ago. However despite that according to the CDC
Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. Each year, about 22 millionExternal U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work.
According to the CDC 27% of all agricultural workers, 46% of all manufacturing workers, 51% of all construction workers, 61% of all mining, oil & gas workers have been exposed to hazardous levels of noise that can cause hearing loss and tinnitus.
That’s a lot of hearing loss!
Based on reports some workers choose not to wear hearing protection which means for some their hearing protection is not adequate enough. So what is out there and which one is the best hearing protection money can buy?
Cons: One Time Use, Can Irritate Ear Canal
Conversations: Because they don’t block a lot of noise with yelling you can have a conversation without removing them.
Effectiveness: Not very effective as doesn’t block all sounds and frequencies
Cons: One Time Use, Can Irritate Ear Canal, Can Cause Moisture Buildup
Conversations: Have to be taken out to have a conversation which then causes issues putting them back in repeatedly
Effectiveness: They tend to create a better seal in the ear so can block loud sounds more effectively
Pros: Affordable, Various Models to choose from, Can clip on helmets to hold in place
Cons: Heavy, Cause sweating around ears in summer if outdoors or warm environments
Conversations: Easier, have to remove at least one ear and hold way from ear to hold a conversation
Effectiveness: Effective, they block out the most frequencies and loud noise compared to foam & silicone earplugs
Pros: Reusable, Inexpensive, Many styles to choose from for best fit
Cons: Unhygienic (reusable and prone to getting dirty), Can cause moisture build up in the ear
Conversations: Need to be removed but because they are reusable they are usually easier to put back in.
Effectiveness: Like silicon, they can cause a good seal and block out more than foam but less than earmuffs.
Pros: Reusable, Custom fit for your ears
Cons: Expensive, Purchased through special companies only, If has a speaker will need to have batteries replaced
Conversations: Need to be removed unless you purchase a version from Tympro (featured above) with a built-in speaker for conversations
Effectiveness: Effective as it is custom fit for your ear, however no real indication of what frequencies and volumes it can protect from.
Pros: Reusable, Varied eartips for best fit, Most Effective
Cons: Expensive, Run on batteries so need to be charged every 50 hours of use
Conversations: No need to remove, the frequency of speech is clearly heard while blocking all other frequencies!
Effectiveness: Most effective at blocking a large range of frequencies and volumes
SO WHICH IS THE BEST HEARING PROTECTION FOR EVERYONE?
In the world of hearing protection pricing can be deceiving and you do get what you pay for. The $1 foam earplugs aren’t that effective and can still lead to hearing loss, whereas the $100 earmuffs are more effective but the $229 electronic earplugs are most effective for a few reasons.
- The biggest factor is the ability to have conversations without having to remove them. Conversations are always required in the workplace and to have to remove your hearing protection over and over during the course of the day exposes your ears to hazardous levels of noise that can do damage even in a short period of time. As well, taking out and putting back in traditional earplugs causes discomfort and if your hands are dirty then the risk of ear infections as well.
- Their effectiveness and blocking all frequencies and levels of noise so it ensures proper protection of your hearing no matter what industry you work in. Whether it’s a high frequency from a saw or the low frequency of machinery you are protected.
- Comfort is key, they are lightweight, secure and come with a variety of ear tips (foam and silicone) to ensure the best fit and comfort for your ears and aren’t heavy on your head like earmuffs, the next closest in effectiveness.
IS YOUR HEARING WORTH $150?
The average foam earplug cost is $50 for about 200 good quality earplugs. On average a worker works 210 days or more per year so your cost is $50 for just less than a year, QuietOn Active Noise Cancelling Earplugs will cost you $299 but should also last you more than 2 years. So if we assume at least 2 years life your cost is only $150 more than what foam earplugs would have cost you over the 2 years.