Hearing Protection for Work and PlayRemember Hearing Loss is PERMANENT
Hearing Protection for work & play
A variety of hearing protection devices are available. The selection of devices depends on the purpose of use.
Protection from Water
Following the surgical insertion of grommets (sometimes needed for children with ear infections), it is advisable to keep the eardrums dry. This can be accomplished with specially designed earplugs:
- Doc’s Proplugs are an off-the-shelf solution – quick fitting, less expensive and most importantly, the user can hear at close to their normal levels. Available in blue, pink!
- Individually moulded plugs after taking an impression of the ear. Can be made in a variety of colours. The off-the-shelf plugs occasionally do not t provide a good fit (depending on the ear shape) and the individually made plugs are needed. These take at least a week for delivery after being sent to the manufacturer.
Both types float, so they will not be found on the bottom of the swimming pool!
Protection from Noise
Exposure to excessive levels of noise is a major contributor to the incidence of hearing loss. People who do not wear hearing protection when engaging in noisy activities, whether at work, home or in their hobbies, are increasing the likelihood of a hearing loss which is now known to be preventable.
There is a variety of types of hearing protectors available:
- Earmuffs – the standard protectors, available in different “strengths” depending on the noise reduction required
- Kid’s earmuffs – a smaller version just for the kids, in pink or light green. Can be used from a young age.
- Electronic earmuffs – allows the user to hear everyday sounds and conversation, but protects the ears from excessive levels. This can be great for hunters and shooters, people who need to hear conversation but should not be removing their muffs to talk.
- Earplugs – individually moulded earplugs, can be ordered in a variety of colours. Impressions of the ears are needed for these.
- Musician’s earplugs – individually moulded (impressions needed). These plugs, often worn by performers, pass the music sound on naturally, as the reduction in sound is uniform across the frequencies.
- Standard off-the-shelf earplugs – a common hearing protection device available in many locations. (Wangaratta Audiology does not sell these.)
- A typical conversation occurs at 60 dB – not loud enough to cause damage.
- A bulldozer that is idling (not actively bulldozing) is loud enough at 85 dB that it can cause permanent damage after only 1 work day (8 hours).
- When listening to a personal music system with stock earphones at a maximum volume, the sound generated can reach a level of over 100 dBA, loud enough to begin causing permanent damage after just 15 minutes per day!
- A clap of thunder from a nearby storm (120 dB) or a gunshot (140-190 dB, depending on weapon), can both cause immediate damage.
Noise at Work
Noise at work or play should be limited in loudness and duration. Victorian Regulations list 85dB as the limit for loudness when exposed for a working day (8 hr). Over this level hearing protection is necessary.
Simple rule: Above 85dB, every 3dB increase in loudness reduces the allowable exposure duration by half.
Ear muffs should be suited to the task and practical for the wearer to use for extended periods. Ear muffs are available for light and heavy duty purposes and must be chosen wisely. Ear muffs for kids are physically smaller and weigh less.
Active electronic ear muffs allow conversation and environmental sounds to be safely heard while protecting your hearing. These are good for sporting and construction activities.
Ear plugs, when fitted properly are a good alternative to muffs, while some issues with ear canal health are increased.
When I hear deer hunters say …. “I can’t hear the deer with ear protection on so I don’t bother.” My answer is swift – “if you don’t, it won’t be long until you may not be able to hear the deer anyway. Use Active electronic ear muffs, hear the deer and preserve your hearing so you can enjoy hearing your kids.”
Remember Hearing Loss is PERMANENT
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