Hearing Protective Devices
About Hearing Protective Devices
Hearing Protective Devices :
Hearing Protective Devices : Where engineering and administrative controls are not successful in lowering noise exposure, hearing protection devices must be used. OSHA requires that employees be offered a variety of hearing protection devices, including ear muffs and ear plugs. If you suspect that you may be over exposed to noise contact the Environmental Health & Safety Office at 515-6862. Noise exposure may be continuous, intermittent or impulsive (less than one second in duration with a delay of more than one second).
Types of Hearing Protectors
There’s a wide variety of types of hearing protectors available, including ear muffs, foam and preformed ear plugs, and canal caps. Selection is based upon several factors, as described below.
Ear Muffs - These devices fit against the head and enclose the entire external ears. The inside of the muff cup is lined with an acoustic foam which can reduce noise by as much as 15 to 30 decibels. Ear muffs are often used in conjunction with ear plugs to protect the employee from extremely load noises, usually at or above 105 decibels.
Ear Plugs - Preformed ear plugs come in different sizes to fit different sizes of ear canals. Formable or foam ear plugs, if placed in the ear correctly, will expand to fill the ear canal and seal against the walls. This allows foam ear plugs to fit ear canals of different sizes.
Canal Caps - As the name implies, these devices cap off the ear canal at its opening. They generally provide less protection than ear muffs or plugs. These devices are not recommended for use by the EHSC.
Choosing a Hearing Protector
Choosing the right hearing protector depends upon several factors:
Good seal: sound reduction is dependant upon blocking any air leakage which will allow sound to bypass the hearing protector and enter the ear. For this reason, the hearing protector must fit properly whether over the ear or in the ear.
Comfort: Both comfort and convenience are important if the device is to be used consistently. The ease of placing and removing the device, as well as environmental factors such as the presence of dirt or chemicals must be considered.
Communication: Hearing protectors often make communication difficult by reducing and distorting sounds. Employees who are hearing-impaired who must receive detailed face to face instruction may prefer ear muffs so that they can lift up the muffs to hear speech.
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