Investing in the best hearing protection gears or devices is a must for anyone whose daily activities expose them to a lot of unwanted noise that can put their hearing at risk of getting damaged. Note that top-quality ear protection devices can prevent you from experiencing permanent hearing loss.
These ear protectors are even more necessary in case you are in noisy work sites or when you are doing recreational activities and at-home tasks that constantly put your hearing in danger. Keep in mind that you will be needing sufficient protection in all hazardous and dangerous noise situations to prevent damaging noise levels from getting into your inner ear.
Fortunately, you can now find several hearing protectors designed for various activities. This means that it is possible to get one that is specific for the kind of activity you are constantly doing and the noise you are hearing. You can even find ear protection for mowing, shooting, and any other noisy environments and activities.
However, take note that not all these devices are created equally. You need to sort them out first to figure out which ones are high-quality enough and appropriate for your specific case.
To speed up the process of learning something about hearing protection and the devices revolving it here is an informative article to guide you. To start with, read on our top 12 reviews so you will know some of those products that continue to receive high hearing protection ratings and positive feedback.
Table of Contents
- List of Top-Tier Hearing Protection Reviews of 2023
- 1. Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Muff
- 2. Howard Leight by Honeywell Electronic Earmuff
- 3. 3M WorkTunes Hearing Protector
- 4. Pro For Sho 34dB Ear Protection
- 5. ACT FIRE Ear Protection
- 6. ClearArmor 141001 Shooters Safety Earmuff
- 7. Decibel Defense 37dB NRR Safety Earmuff
- 8. 3M Peltor X-Series Over-the-Head Earmuff
- 9. PROHEAR 016 Ear Protection
- 10. Amazon Basics Noise-Reduction Safety Earmuffs
- 11. Honeywell Howard Leight Foam Earplugs
- 12. AMAZKER Bell-shaped Ultra Soft Earplug
- What is a Hearing Protection
- How Does It Work
- Types of Hearing Protection
- Why Do You Need a Hearing Protection
- Buying Guide
- Care and Maintenance
- Frequently Asked Questions
List of Top-Tier Hearing Protection Reviews of 2023
1. Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Muff
My next suggestion for those looking for the most efficient hearing protection is the Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Muff. It has a low-profile and slim design, making it convenient to wear and use without putting the muff’s amplification and hearing protection capabilities and properties at risk.
I am impressed with its 23dB noise reduction rating because I discovered that this is more than enough to keep your hearing fully protected without any interference. Available in a wide array of colors, I am quite sure that you will not experience any issue finding a color that fits your preferences.
I like the new comfort fit headband built into this hearing protection device as it perfectly suits an entire day of shooting or doing certain activities and tasks that put you in danger of harming your hearing. Apart from its decent noise reduction rating, I am also pleased with the sound-activated compression featured in this unit.
It is because this supports ear or hearing protection from damaging and loud noises coming from heavy machinery and gunfire without losing your ability to hear commands or talk to other people in your group. Another positive benefit provided by this electronic muff is its improved sound amplification.
This is made possible by its couple of high-gain omnidirectional microphones. Expect this pair of over-ear earplugs or electronic muff to provide a well-balanced and clear sound with the aid of its complete dynamic-range HD speakers.
I am also a hundred percent satisfied with its sound-dampening composite housing and independent controls for the volume. Furthermore, the earcups are super thin and rubberized, making the item more comfortable to wear even for several hours in a day.
2. Howard Leight by Honeywell Electronic Earmuff
If you are looking for the top-tier product in-ear electronic hearing protection then make it a point to include the Howard Leight by Honeywell Electronic Shooting Earmuff in your list of choices. There are several things about this product that truly captured my attention – one of which is its noise-blocking ability of more than 82 decibels.
It boasts of distortion-free amplification capable of blocking or shutting off up to 82 decibels, and probably more, of unwanted sounds. It even utilizes patented and unique air-flow control technology designed to optimize the noise reduction capability of this earmuff across all frequencies.
This earmuff is primarily designed to be used in a shooting range or field, although you can also use it in other noisy environments, like in a workplace. I am greatly satisfied with its low-profile earcups as I noticed their effectiveness without interfering you when you are aiming.
I am impressed with the padded headband of this hearing protection, too, as it makes it all the more comfortable. The headband is adjustable, which results in a secure and customized fit. I am pleased with the foldable and compact design of this hearing protector, too, as it results in easy and convenient storage.
Another thing that truly draws me closer to this item is the external audio jack. It is because this specific feature allows the earmuff to do more than just protecting your ear. It also performs another job of acting as a stereo headphone when you connect it to a source of an audio or MP3 player.
I am also glad of the snap-in ear cushions utilized by this product as such promote ease of replacement while also prolonging the performance and life of the earmuff. Furthermore, it has an auto-shutoff feature.
3. 3M WorkTunes Hearing Protector
For those interested in getting ear protection with Bluetooth technology, the WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector is one of the most suitable and appropriate products for them. What is remarkable about this device is that it works by combining entertainment and hearing protection.
Apart from giving impressive hearing protection, this device is also so innovative that it allows you to take and make phone calls with ease. I like the comfortable and modern design showcased by this hearing protector without sacrificing the quality of the sounds it brings out for entertainment.
It utilizes the wireless Bluetooth technology, giving users the chance to stream their preferred or chosen form of entertainment using their mobile device or smartphone. It does such a function while still offering fantastic hearing protection even when used in extremely noisy environments.
I am also greatly satisfied with the lightweight and low-profile design portrayed by this pair of protective earplugs. I am happy with the overall versatility and flexibility of this item, too. Many even say that it is the top-rated hearing protection for lawn mowing, construction tasks, woodworking, power sawing, shooting, or any other activities.
I am impressed with the conformable and soft ear cushions integrated into this hearing protector. It is also convenient because it is antenna-free and cord-free. The headband is adjustable and comfortable while being compatible with hats. It is appropriate for extended wear, too.
Another thing that I am so happy about with this hearing protector is that it is equipped with a rechargeable battery and a charging cord. It even has an auto-shutoff function as well as an indicator showing low battery.
4. Pro For Sho 34dB Ear Protection
I am also happy to include the Pro For Sho 34dB Ear Protection in my list of recommendations. With the 34dB ear protection rating of this product from Pro For Sho, I am one hundred percent sure of its capability of silencing all the sounds surrounding you, especially those that harm your hearing.
The lightweight yet solid structure of this hearing protection also makes it safe and easy to bring to different places. It is compact, too, which, I think, contributes a lot to the convenience associated with carrying it around without the bulk and weight. I am also pleased with the industrial-grade structure of this unit.
It is because it allows it to reduce sounds significantly and offer adequate protection to your hearing when doing certain activities, like woodworking, hunting, and gun shooting. I am also sure that you will love its budget-friendly price as well as the bunch of color choices provided for all prospective buyers.
It has a solid construction and frame, which somewhat confirms its ability to last for quite a long time. I like the heavy-duty and adjustable headband integrated into this earmuff as it ensures that you will not experience any problem with its fit. You can even expect it to be snug and comfortable.
The headband is also sufficiently padded, making it ideal for long-term wear. It does so without irritating any part of your skin and ear.
5. ACT FIRE Ear Protection
Featuring a 23dB noise reduction rating, shooting headphones like this one from ACT FIRE can muffle the loud blast of guns to a comfortable level. What I appreciate most in this ear protection for shooting is that it allows me to hear other people speaking clearly while drowning out the deafening sounds of guns.
In fact, the ear muff’s stereo sound quality is clear enough that I can easily pinpoint where the sound is coming from without removing the earmuff. As a bonus, this electronic ear protection allows me to plug in the auxiliary to play my music.
Moreover, the ear cups are equipped with a vertical volume control dial, which is quite large and boasts a rib-like design. Even without removing the earmuff from my head, I can easily find and adjust it with just one hand.
Plus, the adjustable headband and the metal racks can open up wide and fit onto my head securely. Because the ear cups are sealed onto my ears properly, the earmuff can do its job of canceling noise effectively!
6. ClearArmor 141001 Shooters Safety Earmuff
My next recommendation for ultimate hearing protection is the ClearArmor 141001 Shooters Safety Earmuff. One amazing thing about it is that it utilizes SonicSeal sound technology, which offers the highest level of protection from loud and harmful noises and sounds.
The materials used in creating the earmuff are also premium-grade, proving the quality of this pair of earmuffs from ClearArmor. I am pleased with the compact size of this earmuff as it makes it portable and easy to carry in a wide array of environments. It is lightweight, too, further improving its portability.
Even with its compactness and lightness, I can still confirm the durability of its overall structure. Expect a higher level of comfort from wearing this hearing protection, too, as it features a soft foam ear ring. With such a feature, you will not have issues with discomfort regardless of the length of time you are wearing it.
Add to that the properly cushioned headband and your comfort level will surely be categorized as superior. The built-in headband is also adjustable, promoting a snug fit since you just have to adjust it to fit the size of your head. Another thing that truly makes this ear protector amazing is its overall design that meets all safety standards.
It is flexible that you can wear it both indoors and outdoors and for daily use and abuse. While it is mainly created to protect you from the harsh noise produced by shooting guns, it is also appropriate for use on other activities, like yard work, construction work, loud music, and auto racing.
Furthermore, I am in love with its folding design as it promotes more efficient storage. It also takes pride in its swivel cup design that has the perfect fit.
7. Decibel Defense 37dB NRR Safety Earmuff
The first product that I discovered for its ability to deliver excellent ear noise protection is the Decibel Defense 37dB NRR Professional Safety Earmuff. With thorough research and constant use, I found out that this safety earmuff from Decibel defense is truly functional and reliable hearing protection for shooting, work, and industrial uses.
With its 37-decibel noise reduction rating, I noticed its decent performance when used in the shooting range. The compact and foldable design showcased by this safety earmuff is also one of its most endearing qualities. It is because such assures users of convenience when they decide to bring it anywhere.
It has a strong, stable, and sturdy built, showcasing its ability to last long. The built-in headband is super comfortable, providing you with prolonged periods of comfort with the help of its well-padded and smooth cell design. It is budget-friendly, too. I can even confirm that it is one of the most protective budget-friendly earmuffs available today.
Aside from offering sufficient ear protection, this earmuff is also available in different colors, letting you pick one that suits your taste. I am also glad of the anti-slip technology applied into the headband as it ensures that it will remain on the head once you put it on.
It is primarily meant for shooting ranges but it is also highly multifunctional. You can wear it in a construction worksite or when you are using a loud machine or doing some household chores using loud equipment.
8. 3M Peltor X-Series Over-the-Head Earmuff
I am also impressed with what the 3M Peltor X-Series Earmuff. This is an over-the-head earmuff, which is primarily designed to block moderate and high industrial noises. The top-notch quality of the earmuff is unquestionable. It is appropriate for those who work on construction sites every day or for anyone who needs hearing protection.
I am happy to say that this earmuff comes in a one-size-fits-all style. This means that it provides a customized and nice fit regardless of the size of your head through its well-designed cups. The ear cups also boast of their tilting and pivoting capabilities, promoting ease in adjusting the earmuff depending on your level of comfort.
I also like the fact that once you adjust the earmuff, it will stay in such setting each time you use it. I am in favor of the increased strength and durability of this hearing protection option, which is provided by its internal wires made of stainless steel. The twin headband is created with the comfort of users in mind.
It offers comfort by lessening the buildup of heat on your head and in areas surrounding your ears. With such a function, you will not have problems wearing it for a long period even during warm seasons. I am also impressed with its modern and attractive design.
It also boasts of its soft and concave replaceable cushions that lessen the pressure applied by the hearing protector into the contact area of the ear, adding to your comfort. Such provides soft foam cushioning, offering all-day comfort and high-level sound insulation.
9. PROHEAR 016 Ear Protection
Meeting the ANSI S3.19-1974 standards, the PROHEAR earmuff provides excellent industrial hearing protection against loud power tools, mowing, aviation, etc. Its 26dB noise reduction rating allows me to tune out ear-piercing sounds. Yet the earmuff still allows me to hear what my coworkers say if they are close.
As someone who needs to travel from one job site to another, I like that this earmuff comes with a pouch. As a result, I don’t have to worry about it getting scratched by pens or other sharp tools when I pack the hearing protection in my bag.
Even better, this product is one of the most comfortable hearing protection I’ve had. With the adjustable headband and flexible ear cups, people with varying head sizes can use this earmuff for long hours without experiencing any discomfort. Plus, its lightweight design sometimes makes me forget I’m wearing it!
10. Amazon Basics Noise-Reduction Safety Earmuffs
This Amazon Basic model is an excellent protective gear that blocks off loud noises. While it’s not specifically designed for gun ranges like the ACT FIRE Actej-01, it still makes for decent shooting ear protection.
In my case, I also wear it for woodworking, DIY projects at home, mowing and sporting events. With a standard 23dD noise-dampening rating, the rumbling sound of the lawn mower and power tools significantly decreases. Despite that, I can still hear people talking when they are close by. Therefore, communication will not be a problem.
Thanks to its four-point suspension system, I can fold this earmuff, so it does not occupy too much space in my bag or the drawer in my workspace. Plus, it can stretch and securely hold onto my head, even if I have to wear protective eyeglasses.
11. Honeywell Howard Leight Foam Earplugs
Another product I suggest using for those who aim to receive the highest level of hearing protection is the Howard Leight Laser Lite High Visibility Foam Earplugs offered by Honeywell. This pair of earplugs carries several remarkable benefits – one of which is its capability of providing incredible noise reduction rating.
It is constructed from a self-adjusting foam material, which you can expect to expand in your ear right after you put it on. This results in much better hearing protection even in extremely loud job sites and workplaces because of its ability to produce a safe and secure seal.
The versatility of this high-visibility foam earplug also seems to be unmatched. It has a small size but you can still expect it to fit users with small and large ears. It showcases an optimal fit for those who have small ears. The ability of its low-pressure foam material to expand also makes it possible to fit all sizes of ear canals and ears.
The versatility of this earplug is also noticeable with its ability to work appropriately for a wide range of industries – among which are construction, farming, metal, steel, pharmaceutical, mining, woodworking, law enforcement, and transportation, among many others.
I am also fond of the superior comfort guaranteed by this ear protector. I think this is made possible by its contoured T-shape, which promotes ease in inserting the earplug and taking it off. It also promotes good hygiene as it can prevent the accumulation of dirt.
Furthermore, it takes pride in its high visibility colors, promoting good compliance with the employee and hearing safety and preventing the risk of the earplug getting misplaced or lost.
12. AMAZKER Bell-shaped Ultra Soft Earplug
You will not also regret investing in the AMAZKER Bell-shaped Ultra Soft Earplug if you want to receive the ultimate solution for hearing protection. With its 35dB sound reduction rating, I am certain that your hearing will be fully protected regardless of where you intend to use and wear it.
You can use it in the workplace, when you are shooting or hunting, or in concerts. I like how you can use it for general hearing protection regardless of how loud the activities in a particular environment is. It is constructed from a premium and high-quality foam material, which is soft enough to maximize your level of comfort.
The material is also non-toxic, which further guarantees your safety and comfort even when you wear and use it for an extended period. It has a soft surface, preventing your ears from experiencing discomfort and pain once you wear the ear protector. Expect a more secure fit from this earplug, too, because of its well-contoured S-shape structure.
I am also very impressed with the bell-shaped design applied to this earplug as it works in lessening ear canal pressure. Your purchase of this item also allows you to get a hold of the portable carrying case made of aluminum material.
With this carrying case around, maintaining the cleanliness of the earplugs and taking it with you anywhere will be much easier and more convenient to do.
Mpow Noise Reduction Safety Earmuff (Outdated)
Another amazing product I would like to recommend using is the Mpow Noise Reduction Safety Earmuff. I am fond of this safety earmuff because of the softness and comfort it brings. It is also lightweight, which also adds up to the extreme comfort that you will enjoy once you begin using and wearing it.
I am in great favor of the highly ergonomic design applied into the double-deck headband. With such a feature, I am sure that this earmuff will remain stuck to your head without adding too much pressure on the area. I am also satisfied with its total performance as far as noise reduction is concerned.
It can significantly lessen the noise surrounding you, making it ideal for protecting your ears when you are hunting, shooting, reading, racing, studying, or attending a concert. It is also appropriate for indoor gun ranges as well as when you are operating loud and noisy machinery.
Such kind of hearing protection makes it appropriate for those who are part of the landscaping and construction industry. The lightweight structure of this earmuff is also a big advantage. It even features a carrying pouch, which prevents you from experiencing problems bringing it wherever you want.
It is also foldable. This means that you can just conveniently fold it up then store it in your backpack, suitcase, drawer, ammo box or any other storage area without problems. With its dual-layered noise dampening foam, it can muffle whatever sound that is within your present environment.
A firm, comfortable, and secure fit can also be expected through its flexible and adjustable headband.
Otis Technology Hearing Protection (Outdated)
I also highly recommend this ear shield hearing protection offered by Otis Technology. What I discovered to be so impressive and satisfying about this product is that it applies a smart solution to keeping your ears and hearing fully protected while boosting your ability to respond to various forms of communication and range commands.
It works well for shooters, thanks to the use of the sound reduction chamber technology, which assures a sport shooter of enjoying a positive experience. This technology functions by dampening, canceling and refracting dangerous sound waves then bringing them into a safe volume.
I also find it remarkable when it comes to shielding your ears from the noise of high decibels. It does so without hampering your ability to hear sound frequencies clearly, like speech. I am satisfied with the hearing protection’s compact design as this means that it will not cause issues when it comes to bringing it in a wide range of locations.
Another reason why I like this ear protector is that it boasts of a simple style, which provides a high level of ear protection without burdening you with huge earmuffs and the need to use batteries. I am also in favor of how it is capable of getting rid of stock interference.
It is comfortable and stays cool even when used during warm weather because of its good breathability. It is also very convenient because it combines its collapsible design with its lightweight structure.
Mpow 035 Noise Reduction Safety Earmuff (Outdated)
The next product designed to give sufficient ear sound protection for various hazardous environments is the Mpow 035 Noise Reduction Safety Earmuff. It works by offering a passive reduction of noise as it does not use batteries. It has a heavy-duty construction, which, I think, shows how it is built to last.
One thing I find admirable in this safety earmuff is its unique noise-dampening foam composed of two layers. It is a multifunctional and versatile earmuff as it can block noise from different scenarios and activities – among which are hunting, shooting, festivals, machinery operations, concerts, and sports events.
It takes pride in its tightly sealed, heavy-duty, and dual shelled cup capable of effectively reducing and blocking noise. This earmuff is effective in filtering loud noises and bringing it down to a safe level. I like the flexible and retractable steel headband of this earmuff as it comfortably suits both kids and adults.
The fit is adjustable so users can adjust it depending on the sizes of their head, promoting a nice, safe, and comfortable fit. I am impressed with the overall portability and compactness of this earmuff, too. It is even lightweight and boasts of foldable design, promoting ease of carrying and storage.
Upon purchase, you will also get a hold of a travel drawstring bag, which assures ease of packing and promotes neat storage as you can easily store it without worrying about it accumulating dust.
What is a Hearing Protection
If you work in an environment wherein you are constantly bombarded by loud noises pretty much the entire workday then you are putting your hearing at risk. Did you know that a sudden burst of noise that is 140 decibels loud can cause severe hearing damage? It might even lead to permanent hearing loss.
However, if you are constantly subjected to a constant stream of 85 decibels throughout the entire day, you are also causing serious damage to your ears over time. Fortunately, there is now a chance to save your hearing by wearing proper hearing protection. There are many different kinds of ear protection that you can choose from.
Your choice will depend on the intensity of noise that you are subjected to regularly. Some earplugs can somewhat muffle loud noise. You can also find some headphones that can completely cancel out all the sounds in your surroundings, completely immersing you in a world of total silence.
You need to take better care of your ears if you ever want to get to grow old with your hearing still intact. If your job requires you to work in a noisy environment then you should use proper hearing protection to mitigate the damage to your ears.
OSHA requires loud worksites to provide proper and adequate hearing protection to their workers.
How Does It Work
All types of hearing protection work by muffling environmental noise just enough that they would fall well under the acceptable levels. Some forms of ear protection, like noise-canceling headphones, are usually just used for entertainment purposes.
This is usually used by audiophiles who like to listen to music without hearing anything else in the background. Most hearing protection gears just take away a good chunk of the noise. You can still hear the noise but it will not be as harmful as it was before.
For instance, you work in a blacksmithing shop where there is always at least one power hammer being used, so there are about 90 to 100 decibels of noise constantly produced. Since being subjected to 85 decibels continuously is enough to cause permanent hearing loss, you need to use proper ear protection at work.
Let us say you bought earmuffs that are said to lessen noise by 35 decibels. This means that instead of 100 decibels, you will be exposed to just 65 decibels of noise, which is well below the acceptable level.
Another thing to remember about the way hearing protection gears function is that they are available in different types with each one mostly coming in different noise-muffling levels. If you want to protect your hearing but you still want to communicate with your co-workers, get earplugs rated for the bare minimum requirement for your line of work.
Remember that even though you just get the bare minimum protection, it is still much better than not protecting your hearing at all.
Types of Hearing Protection
The great thing about hearing protection is that you have a wide variety to choose from. Each of these types provides different ranges of hearing protection so you can pick the one that you feel comfortable using. Here are some of the more common choices that are available today:
Earplugs – This category of hearing protection can be further divided into two sub-categories – disposables and reusable. Disposable earplugs are usually made of high-density foam. In most cases, they are manufactured for single-use only, especially if you will be using them in the workplace.
However, there are some that you can also re-use but no more than three times. These kinds of earplugs can completely create a seal in your ear canal, thus preventing excess noise from seeping through.
Reusable earplugs, on the other hand, are made of soft silicone rubber. Most of these reusable earplugs resemble earphones. The only difference is that the reusable ones feature several flanges instead of just one.
The reason for the multiple layers of rubber flanges is that using just one is not enough to create a complete seal inside your ear. In most cases, it needs one or two more layers.
Earmuffs – Earmuffs provide even more ear protection because they cover the entire ear, not just the ear canal. The great thing about earmuffs is that they are more comfortable. It is because you do not have to push anything into your ears.
However, you can make it even more effective at noise reduction by wearing earplugs underneath. Alternatively, you can change the foam pads with liquid-filled ones.
Electronic noise-canceling earmuffs – These earmuffs are technically more advanced than your regular earmuffs. It is because they have directional microphones so you can still hear when someone is talking to you.
Such is possible without hearing any of the loud background noises. This is thanks to the sophisticated sensors that detect background noise and then play inverse sound waves through small speakers to cancel them out.
Why Do You Need a Hearing Protection
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, continuous exposure to noises that are 85 decibels and above is enough to cause permanent hearing loss. To put it into context 85 decibels is the same noise level as the sounds of a restaurant during the lunch rush.
You might think that that level of noise is not that loud. However, if you are exposed to that amount of noise for an entire work shift, it is enough to cause permanent hearing damage in the long run. There are hundreds of thousands of tiny little hair cells inside the inner ear.
These hairs are responsible for transmitting the sounds from outside the ear to the inner ear. The sound waves from loud noises are enough to cause permanent damage to these hair cells. The problem is that these hairs do not regenerate.
If you constantly subject your ears to dangerous levels of noises, more of these tiny hairs are taken out without returning. Even if you think that you can handle the noise, the damage being done to your ears is gradually compounded, until the time comes that you will not be able to properly hear anything at all.
Even a simple pair of earplugs will be enough as long as they can reduce the amount of noise you are exposed to down to a safe level. You might not feel the effects of hearing damage immediately but you will do so after a couple of years.
Hearing protection gears are not extremely expensive, especially disposable earplugs. Despite that, you should still be wise when spending your money. To help you find the right hearing protection that you can use for work or hobby, here are some of the qualities that you need to look for when you are out there shopping:
Noise reduction – The most important feature that you need to look for in hearing protection is noise reduction or the number of decibels that they can muffle. Ideally, the ear protection that you buy should be able to block at least 35 to 40 decibels of noise. This will be enough to lower the noise level to a healthy level.
This means that you might still hear the muffled noise outside but it is not so loud that you risk damaging your hearing. Depending on your workplace, it might be a good thing that you hear a bit of noise from outside the earphones.
For instance, if you work at a construction site, it is top-tier that you still hear what is going on around you. This is especially true when the emergency alarm goes off.
Fit and comfort – The best kind of ear protection is one that you do not mind wearing all day long. If you are more into wearing earplugs than other kinds of ear protection, you need to check out as many of them as you can until you find the one that you find comfortable.
It is also crucial to go for one that is easy to take off and poses no risk of getting lodged inside your ear canal. If you are thinking of getting earmuffs, pick a pair that fits snugly over your head. Choose one with earcups that have a soft, breathable foam lining.
The cups should also be just the right size that they completely cover your ears and seal them off from the unwelcome noises outside.
Noise-canceling features – If you are thinking of noise-canceling headphones, aside from the actual noise-canceling feature and how it performs which should be excellent, you have to go for one that truly delivers on its promise. It should function in a way that when you turn it on, you should be immediately immersed in a completely silent world.
Aside from that, other features that it should have include an auto-shutoff switch that turns off the noise-canceling feature whenever you remove the headphones. This can conserve battery life.
Also, if you are a music lover, it should have an aux input jack so you can connect your smartphone or music player and listen to your favorite tunes.
Durability – Noise-muffling earmuffs, especially those made for work purposes should at least be able to survive a couple of falls on the concrete. The band should be made of a flexible metal that is still strong that it can resist bending and snapping in two. The earcups should be made of either lightweight metals or tough plastic.
Budget constraints – You should not forego hearing protection just because you think it is out of your budget. You do not have to get the high-end stuff right away if you cannot afford them. You can start by getting good and affordable earplugs for now.
As long as your hearing protection lowers the amount of noise you subject yourself to every day, then it is alright. However, if you have room in your budget, you should go get the top-quality hearing protection that you can. Do not worry about the cost. You will thank yourself later f0r investing in your health.
Care and Maintenance
Ear protection for work is supposed to be heavy-duty and low-maintenance. These pieces of kit are designed for everyday use, except for the disposable earplugs, of course, so they are not delicate at all. However, note that they will benefit a lot from a bit of TLC from time to time.
Keeping your ear protection clean will not only make their usable lifespan longer. You should also do it for your hygiene. This is especially true with reusable earplugs. It will do you no good to use soiled earplugs for days.
If you are using disposable earplugs, you should not use them more than a day unless, of course, you have no other choice. For instance, if you have not brought enough with you, or you have not been able to replenish your stock. However, you should never use disposable earplugs for more than three times.
Reusable earplugs are another thing. You can use them for however many times you want unless, of course, they have deteriorated or a month has passed since you started using it. If the flanges of the reusable earplugs have torn or if the plug itself has dried up and is no longer pliable, avoid reusing the pair, too.
To wash reusable earplugs, you just need to give them a good dunking and a bit of a scrub in some soapy water and rinse them completely under the tap. Earmuffs are easier to care for. You just need to dampen a clean, soft rag in some water and isopropyl alcohol (not so wet that it is dripping).
Use it to rub the bands, the outer shells, and even the foam padding. Only stop when the rag no longer picks up any dust and dirt. If you are using noise-canceling earmuffs or earphones, you just need to be a bit more careful not to get the insides of the earcups wet.
Also, if you will be storing away your noise-canceling earmuffs for an extended time, you should remove the batteries first. The batteries, if left in the battery sled, will surely leak battery acid, which will ruin and break the electrical components.
These are just some of the important things that you need to know regarding the care and maintenance of your hearing protection. Remember, if you take care of your hearing protection, it will take care of you for as long as you want.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why shouldn’t you choose hearing protection with excessive sound reduction?
While hearing protection is necessary, workers still need to hear alarm bells during emergencies and communicate with their coworkers. Hence, hearing protectors that offer 70dB noise reduction should be avoided.
Why is it wrong not to use hearing protection while shooting?
OSHA recommends that one should not be exposed to a noise level of 115dB for over 15 minutes per day. In addition, the threshold of pain for sounds starts around 1150-140 dB, meaning anything louder than this will give the listener physical discomfort. Meanwhile, virtually every gun can produce at least 140dB.
In a firing range, the sound gets louder as it travels and bounces off the walls. One shot can result in severe hearing loss if the people in there do not wear any hearing protection. Furthermore, it can lead to tinnitus, a condition where one experiences temporary or permanent ‘ringing in the ears.’
How long does hearing protection last?
A good rule of thumb is to replace the cushion twice a year, and after two years, you’re supposed to get a new earmuff. That said, how long hearing protection last can also depend on the type of hearing protection you’re using, its design, and its brand.
For instance, Honeywell has two types of earplugs, namely single-use and multi-use. Single-use needs to be discarded after the end of the shift, while multi-use can last 2 to 4 weeks with good maintenance.
The same brand offers earmuffs and recommends replacing them after 6 to 8 months under normal wear or when the ear cushions and foam inserts degrade or lose their shape. When worn heavily or in humid or extreme weather conditions, the earmuffs need to be replaced every 3 to 4 months.
Electronic earmuffs can last longer than all the ear protection above. Many users claim they have owned the same gear for about three to ten years, changing out batteries as needed.
When in doubt, check the product’s lifespan indicated in the packaging, user manual, or brand’s website.
What are the most popular hearing protection brands?
When shopping for the best hearing protection device, various brands will surely be introduced to you. Fortunately, it is not that hard to pick a high-quality product since most brands are trustworthy and capable of fulfilling what they promise. Among them are Decibel Defense, Mpow, Honeywell, Pro For Sho, ClearArmor, and 3M.
Earmuff vs. earplug: what’s the difference?
In terms of how they are used, earplugs go directly into the ear canal. They completely seal up the entrance to the ear canal so that not much noise can get through. In most cases, earplugs, especially the disposable ones, are made of high-density memory foam.
This means that even when you squish them down, they will always return to their original shape. This is the reason why they make such a good seal inside the ear canal. Earmuffs, on the other hand, go over your ears, covering and insulating them from outside noises.
They look like oversized headphones, which is why some people do not like using them. They say that these are too big and bulky. However, they provide better ear protection than earplugs. They are also more convenient to use since you will not be sticking anything inside your ear canal.
Can I use both earplug and earmuff at the same time?
Yes, you can use both kinds of ear protection at the same time. Most people who work in noisy environments do this. They wear their earplugs first then the earmuffs over them. This effectively puts the person in a completely silent world. This is usually done by people who need to have complete silence when they are working.
Where is hearing protection required?
OSHA requires hearing protection for workers who work in high-noise environments. Such workplaces include construction sites, factories, shooting ranges, and other places where the noise levels are unhealthy. According to the OSHA, noises that reach 85 decibels are already considered critical.
With that in mind, prolonged exposure to that level of noise will cause serious hearing damage. To put things into context, 85 decibels is as loud as the engine of a dump truck idling. Better yet, if you have to raise your voice just so you can talk with another person then the background noise is already too loud, requiring you to use hearing protection.
Can my hard hat fit over the hearing protection device?
If you will be using a hard hat, you can still use hearing protection. You can wear earplugs, both disposable and reusable, as they do not get in the way of the hard hat. However, if you need more hearing protection while still wearing a hard hat, go for earmuffs that can be attached on the sides of the hard hat so the cups can reach your ears.
There are also behind the neck earmuffs. These have bands that go behind your neck so you can still wear hard hats as you normally would. If you want even more hearing protection, you can wear earplugs underneath the earmuffs so you can dive into a world of silence.
How long do the batteries of electronic hearing protection last?
This depends on the brand and model of your electronic hearing protection. However, some brands that run on alkaline batteries can supposedly run for more than two days continuously. If you will be using it normally, earmuff batteries can last for 350+ hours.
How to use hearing protection?
This will depend on the type of hearing protection you choose to use. If you will be using earplugs, specifically the foam plugs, you just need to squeeze them between your finger. Insert them inside your ears, just at the opening, and wait for the foam to bounce back to its original shape and size.
This expansion will seal the opening of your ear canal and block noises from coming in. Now, if you are using earmuffs, it is much easier because you just need to put the cups over your ears. You might need to adjust the band to tweak the fit and tightness of the earcups on your ears but that’s about it.
You just need to ensure that the cups are not too tight that you get a headache every time you use the earmuffs. However, ensure that it is not so loose that you can still hear most of the noises around you.
If you will be using sound-canceling earmuffs, you just wear and adjust them as you would regular earmuffs. However, afterward, you need to turn on the sound-canceling feature. You just need to bring extra batteries in case they run out of juice during your shift.
How to care & clean hearing protection?
Giving your hearing protection gear a bit of TLC is quite easy. Disposable earplugs should always be disposed of after every use. Ideally, these should not be used more than once. However, if you do not have any other ear protection at hand at the moment, you can use your used earplugs again, but no more than twice, for hygiene reasons.
Reusable earplugs can be washed and reused the following workday. You just need to dunk them into some warm soapy water and give them a good scrubbing. Rinse and let dry. However, reusable earplugs are not meant to be used for years.
You need to replace them every month, or when the rubber flanges get torn up, whichever comes first. Earmuffs just need to be wiped clean using a clean rag dipped in some water and rubbing alcohol. You just need to be careful when cleaning the foam cups and the sound-canceling earmuffs.
Where to buy hearing protection?
There are many brick and mortar hardware stores that carry several different kinds of hearing protection. If you are lucky, you might be able to find a brand and model that fit your needs perfectly. However, that is not usually the case, and you might need to visit several different stores before you can find one that even comes close to what you need.
If you want a more convenient way of shopping for hearing protection, you should go online shopping. There are plenty of online retailers that sell different kinds of safety equipment, including hearing protection gear.
Another neat thing about online shopping is that it is much easier to compare prices. You just need to open separate tabs for each product. You can browse through hundreds of different brands without even leaving your home.
What is the warranty?
Earplugs usually do not have any long-term warranty. It is mainly because they do not last for years. On the other hand, certain brands of traditional sound-muffling earmuffs have limited lifetime warranties.
These brands that offer such impressive warranties are your best bet. These companies have a lot of pride in the quality of their products that they are willing to back them up with a guarantee.
If you have not taken hearing protection seriously and still think that you can handle the noises that you are subjected to at work, you should do so now while you still have a chance to save your hearing. Even exposure to noises that are just as loud as a bulldozer for hours on end can trigger irreparable damage to your ears.
Unlike the other parts of your body, when you knowingly cause damage to your inner ears, they will not be able to heal themselves. The microscopic hairs in your inner ear that got damaged by loud sounds do not grow back. This means you are gradually losing your hearing the longer you expose yourself to unhealthy noise levels.
With that in mind, invest in the best hearing protection gear. You will live a full life with healthy hearing once you decide to protect it with the appropriate gear.
Having worked in the field of personal protective equipment for over two decades, Andrew Carnegie is a specialist in the field.
At EDC, he strives to improve performance efficiency and promote workplace safety for EDC’s readers and customers. He also researches the most up-to-date equipment that has earned relevant accreditation for use in a wide range of industries and specialties.