Your hearing is a vital part of your overall health, and it's important to take steps to protect it from noise exposure. Hearing protection comes in many forms, from ear plugs to ear muffs, and the level of protection offered varies. It's important to understand the basics in order to choose the best option for your needs.
One key factor to look at is the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). This is a measure of how much noise protection a product can offer and is expressed in decibels (dB). The higher the NRR, the more effective the hearing protection. It's important to note that the NRR is only a guide, and actual noise reduction will vary depending on how well the product fits and how it's worn.
Another important consideration is OSHA regulations. OSHA has set standards for permissible noise exposure levels and requires employers to provide workers with hearing protection if they are exposed to noise at or above these levels. When selecting hearing protection in the workplace, be sure to understand OSHA's regulations to ensure you're choosing the options that meets the requirements for your particular environments.
Join Kerry Schimelfenig, authorized OSHA Outreach Trainer, as he guides us down the path of choosing the right hearing protection for different applications.
- Understanding the hearing protection standards such as ANSI S3 19 1974, ANSI S 12 6 216 2016, and ANSI S319 that ensure predictable and consistent levels of protection across devices and manufacturers.
- Knowing the noise reduction rating (NRR) and how it is established through laboratory testing to predict the level of protection provided by hearing protection devices.
- Recognizing the importance of hearing conservation programs, as required by OSHA, to prevent occupational hearing loss, protect remaining hearing, and provide workers with knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary for safeguarding themselves.
- Understanding how noise is measured, how noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can occur, and how it can hinder communication in the workplace, emphasizing that NIHL is preventable.
- Knowing the different types of hearing protection available, including earplugs, earmuffs, and custom-molded earplugs, and how to choose the right type of hearing protection based on the noise levels and work environment.