Hearing loss can occur from exposure to hazardous/loud noise at any age, hearing protection is critical for retaining a safe level of protection in noisy environements. Once hearing has gone it won’t come back, exposure to harmful noise levels can cause permanent hearing damage and may lead to tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Noise can be a safety hazard when working, making it difficult to communicate when working, reducing the chance of warning/signals being recieved. Noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common reason for employers’ liability insuarance claims for occupational health according to HSE. Hearing can be damaged by a variety of different noises, depending on the environment & the sound. Exposure to different sources of noise (machinery, power tools, wood chippers, chainsaws etc.) can cause hearing damage, even if only exposed to a single source for a short period of time.
Passive ear defenders provide a simple solution to attaining a safe level of hearing protection when working. Our headsets range from headband, helmet mount (can be used with safety helmets) as well as in-ear headsets & neckband (behind the head).
Our range of electronic ear protection provides excellent choice for those who would like extra features of top of regular passive headsets. Headband or helmet mount headsets, in-ear options & neckband (Behind the head) headsets offering a wide spectrum of choice.
Why wear Hearing Protection?
Hearing protection should be issued to employees:
- where extra protection is needed above what has been achieved using noise control; as a short-term measure while other methods of controlling noise are being developed.
- You should not use hearing protection as an alternative to controlling noise by technical and organisational means.
What does the law require employers to do?
You are required to:
- provide your employees with hearing protectors if they ask for it and their noise exposure is between the lower and upper exposure action values;
- provide your employees with hearing protectors and make sure they use them properly when their noise exposure exceeds the upper exposure action values;
- identify hearing protection zones, ie areas where the use of hearing protection is compulsory, and mark them with signs if possible;
- provide your employees with training and information on how to use and care for the hearing protectors;
- ensure that the hearing protectors are properly used and maintained.
How can hearing protection be used effectively?
- make sure the protectors give enough protection – aim at least 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 how comfortable and hygienic they are;
- think about how they will be worn with other protective equipment (eg hard hats, dust masks and eye protection);
- provide a range of protectors so that employees can choose ones which suit them.
- provide protectors which cut out too much noise – this can cause isolation, or lead to an unwillingness to wear them;
- make the use of hearing protectors compulsory where the law doesn’t require it;
- have a ‘blanket’ approach to hearing protection – better to target its use and only encourage people to wear it when they need to.
What about maintenance?
You will need to make sure that hearing protection works effectively and check that:
- it remains in good, clean condition;
- earmuff seals are undamaged;
- the tension of the headbands is not reduced;
- there are no unofficial modifications;
- compressible earplugs are soft, pliable and clean.
What checks do I have to make?
You need to make sure that employees use hearing protection when required to. You may want to:
- include the need to wear hearing protection in your safety policy. Put someone in authority in overall charge of issuing them and making sure replacements are readily available;
- carry out spot checks to see that the rules are being followed and that hearing protection is being used properly. If employees carry on not using it properly you should follow your normal company disciplinary procedures;
- ensure all managers and supervisors set a good example and wear hearing protection at all times when in hearing protection zones;
- ensure only people who need to be there enter hearing protection zones and do not stay longer than they need to.
SNR is a Single Number Rating system. SNR values are used to compare the level of noise attenuation offered by hearing protectors. To calculate acoustic pressure on your ears, you can subtract the SNR value from the average noise level measured. For example:
- The noise level measures roughly 88 dB.
- You are wearing ear protection with an SNR of 19.
- Thus, the acoustic pressure on your ears is on average 88 – 19 = 69 dB.
The higher the SNR, the higher the level of noise attenuation provided by the hearing protection.