With proper care, you can virtually guarantee your ears won't be damaged by loud noises. Most hearing loss happens naturally as we age. Damage to the inner ear from loud sounds, known as ‘noise induced hearing loss’, is the second leading cause of hearing loss. By limiting your exposure to loud sounds, and wearing the right protective devices when you are exposed to loud noises, you can keep your ears healthy for a lifetime.
*Protecting your hearing effectively*
Make sure the ear protectors give enough protection - aim to get below 85 dB at the ear.
Target the use of protectors to the noisy tasks and jobs in a working day.
Select protectors which are suitable for the working environment. Consider comfort and think about how they will be worn with other protective equipment (hard hats, dust masks and eye protection)
Do not wear protectors which cut out too much noise as this can cause isolation, and lead to an unwillingness to wear them.
You will need to make sure that hearing protection works effectively and check that:
’¢ The ear protection is in good, clean condition.
’¢ The ear defender seals are undamaged.
’¢ Earplugs are soft, pliable and clean.
Earplugs come in two basic types, an expandable foam insert and a flexible plastic. The foam earplug is rolled tightly before it is put in the ear and then expands. They are effective at blocking noise. The plastic earplugs work in the same way, but are reusable. On the upside, earplugs are small, convenient, and comfortable to wear even in hot and humid conditions. But, they are also easy to lose, can be hard to put in and can irritate the ear. To avoid ear infections, it is important to keep your hands and the plastic earplugs clean. It is best to use the foam earplugs only once.
Ear Defenders are the most effective form of hearing protection. They are made of a hard outer shell and soft inner cushion. The earmuffs fit over the entire ear and are held together by an adjustable headband.
If you work around engines, motors, blowers, generators, vacuums, compressors, fans and other similar devices, you need protection against the low-frequency noise that conventional passive earmuffs alone cannot handle. Ear defenders with advanced active noise cancellation technology offer the most comprehensive hearing protection available to industry today.
Ear canal caps have small, flexible tips that either fit into the ear or simply cap the opening. A lightweight headband holds the canal caps together. Though convenient, canal caps are less effective at higher noise levels.
Here are some typical sounds and their decibel levels (anything above 85 decibels (dB) is a hazard):
Whisper, 30dB; Normal Conversation or a Typewriter, 60dB; Lawnmower, 90dB (just into the hazard zone); Chainsaw, 100dB; Rock Concert, 115dB; Jet Engine 140dB.
Protect your ears when using these power tools:
Orbital Sander produces approximately 90 dB, Table Saw 93 dB, Planer 94 dB, Belt Sander 94 dB,
Router 95 dB, Power Drill 99 dB, Circular Saw 101 dB, Mitre Saw 103 dB, Chop Saw 106 dB,
Hammer Drill 114 dB.