Your hearing can be affected if you are exposed to a really loud noise at 120 decibels or more for a short time. It can also be damaged with loud noise at 85 decibels or higher for an extended period of time. The louder the sound, the shorter amount of time it takes to cause hearing loss. Here are some frequently asked questions about hearing protection at work.

What Are Ear Plugs?

Ear plugs are inserted into the ear canal and block some of the sound coming in. They may be custom molded or made of foam to fit in the ear easily. Some are disposable and some can be reused. Others come with a neck cord to facilitate removing the ear plugs and keeping them handy to use again.

What Are Earmuffs?

Noise-canceling earmuffs that protect your hearing are also called safety earmuffs. They cover the entire ear and can reduce noise up to 35 decibels. They resemble headphones and have a headband holding the two earmuffs together.

How Do I Make Sure My Hearing Protecting Fits Properly?

With ear plugs, you should pull the ear forward with the opposite hand so the ear canal straightens. Make sure there is a tight seal inside the ear. When wearing earmuffs, make sure there is nothing between the earmuffs and your ear, like hair or clothing. Earmuffs need to fit tightly against the head for maximum benefit.

How Do I Take Care of My Ear Plugs?

Check them regularly for wear and tear. Replace any ear plugs that are no longer flexible. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if they are washable.

How Do I Take Care of My Earmuffs?

Check them regularly for wear and tear. Replace earmuffs if the headband is loose and the earmuffs do not fit tightly on the ears. You can wash the outside but don’t get the inside of the earmuffs wet.