We are proud to introduce our line of protective headphones and earplugs designed to safeguard students, staff, and faculty against potentially damaging loud noises such as those in industrial arts areas. Some campuses have ongoing construction that makes noise reduction headphones a practical safety item for physical plant staff.

FAQs about Hearing Protection

Q: Don't we lose our hearing as we age?
Answer
It's true that most people's hearing test gets worse as they get older. But for the average person, aging does not cause impaired hearing before at least the age of 60. People who are not exposed to noise and are otherwise healthy, keep their hearing for many years. People who are exposed to noise and do not protect their hearing begin to lose their hearing at an early age. For example, by age 25 the average carpenter has "50-year old" ears! That is, by age 25, the average carpenter has the same hearing as someone who is 50 years old and has worked in a quiet job.
Q: We work in a dusty, dirty place. Should I worry that our ears will get infected by using earplugs?
Answer
Using earplugs will not cause an infection. But use common sense. Have clean hands when using earplugs that need to be rolled or formed with your fingers in order for you to insert them. If this is inconvenient, there are plenty of earplugs that are pre-molded or that have stems so that you can insert them without having to touch the part that goes into the ear canal.
Q: Can you hear warning sounds, such as backup beeps, when wearing hearing protectors?
Answer
The fact is that there are fatal injuries because people do not hear warning sounds. However, this is usually because the background noise was too high or because the person had severe hearing loss, not because someone was wearing hearing protectors. Using hearing protectors will bring both the noise and the warning sound down equally. So if the warning sound is audible without the hearing protector, it will usually be audible when wearing the hearing protector. For the unusual situations where this is not the case, the solution may be as simple as using a different hearing protector. Also, many warning systems can be adjusted or changed so warning signals are easier to detect.
Q: Won't hearing protectors interfere with our ability to hear important sounds our machinery and equipment make?
Answer
Hearing protectors will lower the noise level of your equipment; it won't eliminate it. However, some hearing protectors will reduce certain frequencies more than others; so wearing them can make noises sound different. In cases where it's important that the sound just be quieter without any other changes, there are hearing protectors that can provide flat attenuation.

There are also noise-activated hearing protectors that allow normal sounds to pass through the ear and only "turn-on" when the noise reaches hazardous levels. There are even protectors that professional concert musicians use that can lower the sound level while retaining sound fidelity.
Q: Will we be able to hear each other talk when wearing hearing protectors?
Answer
Some people find they can wear hearing protectors and still understand speech. Others will have trouble hearing speech while wearing hearing protectors. Being able to hear what other people say depends on many things: distance from the speaker, ability to see the speaker's face, general familiarity with the topic, level of background noise, and whether or not one has an existing hearing impairment. In some cases, wearing hearing protectors can make it easier to understand speech.

In other instances, people may be using hearing protectors to keep out too much sound. You may need a protector that reduces the sound enough to be safe without reducing the sound too much to hear speech at a comfortably loud level. For those people who work in noise and must communicate, it may also be necessary to use communication headsets. Allow your employees to try different protectors. Some will work better than others at helping them to hear speech, and different protectors may work better for different people.
Q: How long does it take to get used to hearing protectors?
Answer
Think about getting a new pair of shoes. Some shoes take no time to get used to. Others - even though they are the right size - can take a while to get used to. Hearing protectors are no different from other safety equipment in terms of getting used to them. But if hearing protectors are the wrong size, or are worn out, they will not be comfortable. Also, workers may need more than one kind of protector at their job. For example, no one would wear golf shoes to go bowling. If hearing protectors are not suitable for the work being done, they probably won't feel comfortable.
Q: How long can someone be in a loud noise before it's hazardous?
Answer
The degree of hearing hazard is related to both the level of the noise as well as to the duration of the exposure. But this question is like asking how long can people look at the sun without damaging their eyes. The safest thing to do is to ensure workers always protect their ears by wearing hearing protectors anytime they are around loud noise.
Q: How can I tell if a noise situation is too loud?
Answer
There are two rules: First, if you have to raise your voice to talk to someone who is an arm's length away, then the noise is likely to be hazardous. Second, if your ears are ringing or sounds seem dull or flat after leaving a noisy place, then you probably were expose to hazardous noise.
Q: How often should your hearing be tested?
Answer
Anyone regularly exposed to hazardous noise should have an annual hearing test. Also, anyone who notices a change in his/her hearing (or who develops tinnitus) should have his or her ears checked. People who have healthy ears and who are not exposed to hazardous noise should get a hearing test every three years.

Source: Noise and Hearing Loss, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health link to site

Additional Information: Occupational Safety and Health Administration; on Noise link to site

Learn more about preventing noise-induced hearing loss. link to site