Ear Plugs or Ear Muffs?
Hearing protection is a requirement in most facilities and work places today. There are many different options when it comes to hearing protection and each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the differences between ear plugs and ear muffs.
Why Ear Muffs?
The main advantage of ear muffs is the fact that they are easy to put on, with no preparation – they simply fit on. This makes them ideal for intermittent use where a worker may just be using them for certain tasks and not full time. Since they are so easy to wear, this provides a consistent level of comfort.
In cooler weather, ear muffs are more comfortable for workers that wear hearing protection for longer periods of time. However in warmer weather, the worker may prefer ear plugs since ear muffs may build up sweat and moisture.
Why Not Ear Muffs?
Ear muffs are simple to wear, however they typically offer less hearing protection than ear plugs since they sit over top of the ear, as opposed to directly inside the ear canal where ear plugs sit. Due to ear muffs sitting over the ear covering a larger area, sweat, moisture and discomfort can occur.
Ear muffs can also lose some protection when worn with other PPE such as safety glasses, since the fit can interfere with it’s effectiveness. There are, however, different styles of ear muffs which clip directly onto hard hats for better use.
Why Ear Plugs?
The main advantage of ear plugs is the high level of protection they provide due to the tighter fit directly into the ear canal. Therefore, ear plugs have a higher level of noise protection than ear muffs. This makes ear plugs a great choice in highly concentrated noise zones.
Ear plugs are small in size making them easier to carry around when they are not being used, when compared to ear muffs which are a lot bigger and bulky to carry around when they aren’t in use.
If other PPE products are required such as hard hats and safety glasses, ear plugs are usually the best product since they don’t interfere with the proper fit and wear of other PPE products.
Why Not Ear Plugs?
The main problem with ear plugs is that they can be hard to fit correctly. If they aren’t fitted correctly into the ear canal, then the hearing protection may not be as optimal as it should be. It is important that workers are trained to wear ear plugs correctly so they are protected from damaging noise.
Another issue with ear plugs is the fact that they can get dirty and become unclean when they are not being worn. Some workers may then insert them into the ear canal again, causing a risk of infection. It is important that workers keep ear plugs in a safe container or place to avoid this issue. The other option is to allow workers to throw away any used ear plugs and to insert new ones before they begin work again.
No matter what type or style of hearing protection you use, it is important to make sure that you have the correct protection for the noises present. All hearing protection will carry a NRR rating which will be marked on it’s packaging. The NRR rating is a unit of measurement to determine the effectiveness of hearing protection in decibels. It is important to understand exactly how much and what style of hearing protection you require in your work place.
Hearing Protection Products can be seen at https://www.acuresafety.com/catalogue/personal-protection/