ST. PAUL, Minn. — When you’re managing a hearing conservation program, choosing the right type of protection can help ensure your workers stay safe, comfortable and compliant. This means you have to consider a number of factors, including comfort, the level of noise workers are exposed to, equipment costs and even the level of training you’ll be able to offer. Regardless of your unique workplace conditions, earmuffs can often address a number of these factors to help you build a more effective program.
Are Cost Efficient and Reusable
Earmuffs can be reused time and again, and, if properly cleaned and stored, can typically be worn up to three years. Also, given the size, they are harder to lose than other hearing protectors. This means you may not need to replace earmuffs as often as other types of hearing protectors.
Are Simpler to Use
One of the easiest hearing protectors to wear, earmuffs can quickly be adjusted to provide a snug and reliable fit for a wide range of ear and head sizes. Since earmuffs are not complicated to put on correctly, most users quickly learn to wear them. Additionally, earmuffs allow workers to easily put protection on and take it off throughout the day as needed.
Earmuffs don’t have to be big and bulky; many are designed using lightweight, flexible materials to help enhance comfort. As an added comfort benefit, they can help keep workers warm in cold or windy environments. Earmuffs are also versatile with many different headband and attachment options for compatibility with other personal protective equipment (PPE). Plus, they are often compatible with hearing aids and can be a comfortable alternative to earplugs for people who don’t like earplugs or have ear infections. This helps you provide every one of your employees with the hearing protection that’s comfortable for them to use and that they need.
Facilitate Worker Satisfaction
Protective equipment is helpful only when it’s being used. A secondary benefit of the comfort and simplicity of earmuffs can be worker satisfaction. The easier and more comfortable personal protection equipment is, the more likely your employees will wear it. Additionally, because earmuffs are visible from a distance, it’s easy to monitor that workers are wearing hearing protection.
Pair with Earplugs for Dual Protection
For environments with very high noise levels (e.g., 100 dBA), earmuffs can be paired with earplugs for increased protection. In fact, auditory research has found that when earmuffs and earplugs are worn together, the combined noise reduction may be 5 to 10 dB higher than either device worn by itself. While dual protection isn’t necessary for every hearing conservation program, it’s important to ensure you have options when earmuffs or earplugs alone can’t provide the appropriate level of protection.