The ability to hear gets affected with age, just like eyesight. Most people will have hearing problems as they near sixty and grow older, but many people have hearing problems due to loud noises at their workplaces.
Physical injuries or accidents can also damage hearing. To prevent any adverse effects on hearing, people should use different types of hearing protection.
The choice of hearing protection can be based upon the nature of the sound one is exposed to and also the preference of the employers/employees.
Loss of hearing rarely develops overnight, although physical injuries and accidents can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss.
“In most cases, loss of hearing develops over years of exposure to loud noises, usually sounds higher than eighty-five decibels.”
In many cases, people suffer from tinnitus, ear infections, and irritations before experiencing a concerning loss of hearing.
Loss of hearing can be
- Temporary or Permanent
- Transient or worsening depending on the cause and the level of precaution taken
Timely intervention and medical care coupled with one of the more effective types of hearing protection can be a surefire remedy.
Types of Hearing Protection
There are more than half a dozen types of hearing protection.
1. Foam Earplugs
These are common in construction sites and factories. Many companies make it imperative for employees or the workers and even visitors to wear foam earplugs while they are onsite.
Foam earplugs are cheap so they are often the more preferred option but they are not the best among the different types of hearing protection. They cause irritation in the ears and may be used with dirty hands and fingers.
This can increase the risk of infections in the ears. Foam earplugs are used and throw. They are not for prolonged and repeated use.
2. Wax Earplugs
Are a little better than foam earplugs. They are affordable but a little costlier than foam earplugs.
Wax earplugs tend to seal the ears and space around so you don’t get to hear anything. You would have a feeling that you cannot hear.
They are thrown after usage and are not ideal for workplaces where people need to coordinate with one another. Workers who must listen to the sound of a machine or at least hear organic and ambient sound cannot use wax balls.
Are another option. There are many types of earmuffs and the models can vary in design as well as the level of hearing protection they offer.
Earmuffs are like safety helmets. Earmuffs come in different sizes for kids and adults. Earmuffs would typically cover the entire ear.
While earmuffs are suitable for cold conditions, they can cause irritation in the ears and around the ears in warmer climates, especially if there is substantial relative humidity.
4. Silicon Plugs
Are a better alternative to foam plugs. The two look similar but silicon plugs are made of better material and they don’t cause any irritating sensation.
Silicon plugs can protect the auditory canal but they are not supported by any larger structure or form. Hence, they may fall off. Silicon plugs are also used and throw.
5. Universal Earplugs
Are a more popular choice these days. They block the auditory canal and tend to isolate the auditory senses.
However, one gets to hear the ambient sound so a person wearing universal earplugs doesn’t feel shut off from all noises or environmental noise.
There is a filter system inside the universal earplugs that can attain different levels of noise cancellation. There are many types of universal earplugs.
Companies making these can also tweak the design and filters to suit specific industries, workplace hazards, and operation-specific noises.
Are customized protective gear for ears. These are widely used by musicians, motorcyclists, and racecar drivers.
Good quality otoplastics can last for years if well maintained. There are of course good quality and bad quality otoplastics.
Also, the designs but be customized to suit specific operations. The muffler value, comfort and level of noise cancellation will depend on the design and filter.
Customized otoplastics are not the cheapest of all types of hearing protection. In fact, these are among the most expensive. But they are not used and throw.
They do not cause irritation. They do not block all noise and shut off the outside world. They don’t pose any risk to the ear, surrounding region, or the auditory canal.
Companies should gauge the level of risk or the decibels of noise their employees are exposed to and accordingly choose the best types of hearing protection. It is the job of the employers to ensure their employees have adequate protection against occupational hazards.