Aug 19, 2010
Written on Monday, November 2, 2009
Ear plugs may be small, but they can do great things. They protect your ears from the damaging affects of noise that can cause hyperacusis and tinnitus over time. Permanently damaged, you will never get it back. This can lead to many other problems in life.
If you work, live, or play in a loud environment, earplugs are vital to protecting your hearing. At the same time, earplugs can help with the ability to focus, sleep, and maintain a higher level of concentration. OSHA enacted a hearing conservation standard in the 1980s. This requires all employers to keep an eye on their employee’s hearing. This is required when people are in areas of 85 dB and above. All employees must have a hearing conservation program. Along with this, hearing tests must be available at no cost to the employee. If a person is subjected to 90 dB or above in a workplace, they must wear devices to protect hearing.
The noise of normal city traffic from inside a car is said to be around 85 dB. Overtime, loud noises can lead to ringing in the ears and varying levels of hearing loss. Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) can be temporary or permanent depending on the extent of inner ear damage. Many people develop hypersensitivity to sounds (hyperacusis). If there is damage to the auditory nerve, all incoming sounds will be amplified. This usually leads to discomfort or even pain. There are simple precautions that you can take to prevent damage to the ears. Wearing earplugs when exposed to loud noise will help to prevent damage, hearing loss, and the conditions that can accompany damage tot he ears.
There are many options out there when it comes to earplugs. Understanding what you need beforehand can save you time and frustration. All earplugs will have an NNR rating on the box. This is a good way to understand how much protection you are getting from an individual type of earplug. If earplugs have a rating of 20 NNR, this means that they will protect up to 20 dB. NNR rating will help you decide the noise reduction that is best suited for your job or other noisy environment. You also need something that is going to be comfortable. There are different shapes, sizes, and makes when it comes to earplugs. Plastic earplugs are very common. They expand to fill your ear canal and protect your ear from noise. For people who need a lot of protection, custom-fit earplugs are available. If you want an idea of the types of earplugs that are available, doing a web search will give you the options available. You can then buy online or know exactly what you need when you go to the store.
Make sure to look around enough that you know what kind of ear protection is needed. You need an earplug that can hold up to the level of disciples that you will be exposed to. This will ensure that you will not damage your hearing.
Aug 19, 2010
Written on Thursday, March 19, 2009
Push-In vs. Roll-Down Earplugs
As you may know, disposable ear plugs are one way to achieve proper hearing protection in a work environment. The type of earplug you choose must be comfortable enough to wear for long periods, but most importantly, be inserted correctly into the ear.
These type of disposable foam ear plugs require the user to roll the foam between their fingers to compress the foam to a sufficient size for proper insertion. If the user does not do this step properly (which is a common mistake), then the plug would not be inserted into the ear far enough to achieve the best possible protection level.
Another drawback to using roll-down plugs is their tendency to be unsanitary. Workers have to use their fingers to roll the plugs prior to inserting them into the ear. If the workers’ hands aren’t completely clean, then they run the chance of inserting dirt and germs from their hands into their ears.
Despite these possible disadvantages to using roll-down earplugs, many people still prefer to use them over other types of hearing protectors. Roll-downs also offer the highest amount of attenuation when inserted correctly.
The push-in type of earplugs is considered by many to be easier to use than other types of plugs. The user simply grasps a plastic (or other rigid material) stem portion of the plug and “pushes in” the foam (or attenuating surface) end into the ear canal. No rolling is required, and therefore, proper insertion is easy to achieve.
Push-in plugs are also more sanitary than roll-downs because the user does not have to touch the part of the plug that goes into the ear. Dirt and germs from hands have far less of a chance making their way onto the foam attenuation portion of a push-in plug because the user never has to touch this part.
Although push-in plugs are easier to insert, they do not offer higher attenuation levels then a properly inserted roll-down plug.
Written by: Carissa Kelley
Aug 19, 2010
Written on Thursday, March 5, 2009
Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is an attempt to summarize a hearing protector’s performance in a simple manner, by processing all the test data in accordance with an established formula. Since the 1980’s, the NRR rating has been the most widely and most commonly used criteria to measure performance of hearing protection.
The NRR is a single-number rating that is required by law to be shown on the label of each hearing protector sold in the United States. However, this will soon change.
The EPA will soon make an announcement proposing a major revision in hearing protection labeling requirements. Basically, the NRR will change from a single-number rating into a two-number range.
The reason for the change is this: Many workers do not achieve the amount of attenuation from their hearing protectors as indicated on the NRR label. Improper fit or difficulty of use are examples of why this can happen. Years of research confirm that the current NRR labels highly overestimate the amount of attenuation that individuals actually receive in the work place.
The new dual-number rating will consist of high/low values that are based upon the user’s training, experience, and motivation levels in wearing hearing protection. The high NRR value is possible to achieve for 20% of individuals, falling under the “highly trained and motivated users” category. The low NRR value is obtained for 80% of individuals (most of us), who fall under the “individually trained, but not necessarily motivated or highly trained users” category.
For example, instead of seeing NRR 32, you would see an NRR range of 18 – 32. Most of us (80%) would obtain an NRR of 18 from this particular hearing protector, while only 20% of individuals (highly trained and motivated) would be able to achieve the maximum NRR of 32.
For more information and the most recent updates regarding the NRR revision and associated OSHA compliance policies, please visit NRRupdate.com.
Written by Carissa Kelley