Ear plugs are devices that are commonly worn by people at their places of work to provide protection against loud noise. They also provide protection against water intrusion, strong winds, dust and other foreign elements.
Extremely loud noise is very dangerous to the ears. People who work in such environments without adequate protection risk losing their sense of hearing. They are also at great risk of suffering from tinnitus, a medical condition that is characterized by a permanent ringing sensation in the ears.
Custom molded earplugs are quite different from ear defenders. The former are more effective than the later because they are placed inside the ear canal, thus providing greater protection. That’s why ear plugs should be used in places where there is very loud noise. Additionally, they can be worn together with head protection gear, goggles and other PPE since they are small in size.
Ideally, ear plugs should be used in places where the climate is generally warm. This is because if ear defenders are worn in such environments, they can make people/ wearers feel very uncomfortable.
There are various types of ear plugs. They include; foam disposable, pre-molded reusable and customized silicone ear plugs. Others are specially designed to be used for particular purposes, for instance in the agriculture and music industries.
Are you aware that customized silicone ear plugs can be specially designed to fit your ear canal size? This can be done with the help of a DIY kit or a professional.
Hearing protection at places of work
Legally, an employer has the legal obligation of assessing and identifying preventive and reactive measures that can lead to the reduction or total elimination of risks that employees are prone to with regard to extremely loud noise. Additionally, the measures should be proportional to the risk level.
Ideally, the procedure should be as follows: identification of noise risk, assessment of the risk level and implementation of appropriate control measures.
There are several ways of reducing noise levels at places of work. They include; choosing equipment that produce less noise, introduction of silencers and other engineering control measures and ensuring that noise is as far away from employees as possible. However, it’s extremely difficult to completely get rid of noise. This is why hearing protection must be considered.
All employers must ensure that noise levels at their places of work do not exceed 85 decibels. This is according to the law. If the levels of noise go beyond 80 decibels, they (employers) are legally required to not only carry out risk assessment, but also inform and train their employees about the risk and the action that must be taken. Additionally, there is an 87dB exposure limit value, taking into consideration reduction (if any) in exposure to risk as a result of using hearing protection devices.
According to the noise regulations, employers are legally required to take specific actions at particular action values with regard to the average exposure levels that employees are exposed to every working day/ week, as well as the peak sound pressure/ maximum noise that they are exposed to every working day.