There has been ongoing research to help people working in high noise environments by enhancing the degree of noise attenuation provided by conventional hearing protection devices. The Noise at Work Regulations Act of 1989 requires employers to provide hearing protection to their employees where noise levels are between 85dBA and 90dBA. If the noise level exceeds 90dBA, it is mandatory that hearing protection is provided and worn. With today's advanced electronic devices, passive protection could be improved upon by such noise-canceling circuitry in hearing protection devices (HPDs), especially for earmuffs.
In recent years there has been rapid development in the number and types of hearing devices available to provide hearing protection as mandated by OSHA. The design of these hearing protection devices has evolved in both the technology and the materials used in their construction. Earmuffs are widely used in areas with construction machinery, airports and industries such as mining, military, and manufacturing, where noise levels are very high. Workers count on earmuffs to block noise and manage sound in some of the world's most acoustically challenging environments.
There are a range of earmuffs with different product features and reduced noise levels available to meet the demands of users in different environments, like traditional earmuff and electronic earmuffs. Traditional earmuffs rely solely on the sound-blocking quality. They may protect your hearing, but they minimize your ability to hear speech and reduce your awareness of your surroundings. As a result, users tend to remove their hearing protection, in order to communicate and subsequently compromising their hearing.
Electronic earmuffs include radio and two-way communication and block or adjust noise as well. These earmuffs isolate and enhance speech and suppress dangerous noise to a safe level so you can hear speech and stay protected in high noise environments. Workers can now easily communicate and hear clear audible speech while wearing these optimum industrial hearing protection devices.
Providing More than Noise Protection
Despite the availability of improved and high technology hearing protection devices and regulations mandating their use, there is still high incidence of occupational noise induced hearing loss. The reason is the human tendency to remove HPDs in high noise environments. No HPD can be effective if safety precautions are not taken and rules not followed. This can be due to discomfort or any other reason. Which type of ear protection is chosen by workers will depend upon the fit, comfort and convenience of either earmuffs or ear plugs. Hence safety professionals should follow certain guidelines while selecting these earmuffs.
Comfort – Earmuffs should be comfortable and fit well. If the earmuffs are not comfortable, they will not be worn.
Convenience – Is definitely a plus with hearing devices. Earmuffs sit on top of your head and cover the ears, sealing out excessive noise, and are comfortable. Another point to remember is the availability of earmuffs. If they are not available when and where they are needed or are difficult to use, they will not be used.
Communication Solution – Earmuffs need to be a high noise communication solution that offers the ability to communicate face-to-face at short and long distances via two way radio and Bluetooth cell phone in high noise environments. They should have a device that enhances speech in real-time, enabling users to hear speech clearly enough to understand instructions and to hear warning signals.
Modern hearing protection technology has advanced and is continuing to evolve. Selecting the right earmuffs will improve worker safety, improve regulatory compliance and improve productivity and worker morale.
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