Our hearing is a valuable resource and we should take precautions to protect ourselves from noise exposure that could potentially cause us to lose even a portion of that resource. Hearing protection devices are a common item of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Here are some types of hearing protectors that you may see at your worksite:
Foam Ear Plugs: These come in a variety of sizes and types as shown below. Normally, these plugs are compressed with the fingers and then inserted directly into the ear canal, and then they expand and form a sound reduction barrier to reduce the effects of the surrounding noise. Since there are such a wide variety of these plugs, you should always read the directions on the package to assure that you insert them correctly and they are suitable for use in your work environment. Remember to always wash your hands before inserting the plugs. Handling the plugs with dirty hands can result in ear infection.
Ear Muffs: These are used in many industrial applications, especially where the exposures are for short periods and employees want protection that can be put on and taken off easily. Ear Muffs are only effective when they are adjusted to fit snugly around your ears. There are muffs that are specifically designed for use with hard hats and other types of PPE that may be needed on your job site. Always consult with your supervisor if you have questions about the use and care of your PPE.