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Are Earmuffs Effective For Your Hearing Protection?

Many workers wear hearing protection earmuffs over their heads similar to headphones. They have a number of advantages, but because of competing products such as earplugs, some question just how effective they actually are. Below is a comprehensive analysis.

Ear Muff Advantages and Disadvantages

Ear muffs tend to provide consistent hearing protection, come with a single size that will fit most, and are simple to take off or put on. They are highly recommended for shorter jobs. However, they do have some drawbacks. They tend to be heavier than other hearing devices and may become uncomfortable to wear in hotter areas, especially during summer.

Furthermore, those who need or want to wear eyeglasses with their earmuffs might find that the seal is not that great. Finally, earmuffs tend to cost more than other hearing protection devices and will often vibrate or resonate at lower noise frequencies such as <400 Hz.

Tips for Wearing Earmuffs

When wearing earmuffs, it is essential to keep in mind that any object which comes between the muff and your ear will reduce their overall effectiveness. This is why those who must use eyewear should either purchase glasses or sunglasses with temples that are thin so they don’t obstruct the seal or use contact lenses. There are also some earmuffs that can connect to construction hard hats to ensure a good seal.

When you put the earmuffs on, be sure to keep your hair away. Position your earmuffs on the head and make certain you have a tight seal. If not, adjust your headband until the earmuffs feel comfortable. The cups must completely cover the ears and before using them, you’ll also want to visually inspect the earmuffs for tears or cracks.

Earmuffs versus Earplugs

The biggest advantage of earmuffs is that they don’t require customized fitting, which means most models can be worn by virtually anyone. They will also keep your ears warm during winter and when you work in cold environments such as a walk-in fridge. Some are electronic and battery-powered, which means that they will allow you to detect ambient sounds while blocking out loud noises.

Earplugs differ from earmuffs because they are designed to fit inside your ear canal, rather than over it. As a consequence, they tend to provide greater protection. They are regularly used by employees working in foundries, factories, airport tarmacs or any place where they are regularly exposed to loud noises. They tend to be smaller than earmuffs which means they are easier to carry around but are also easy to misplace. Because of their design, they also cause no issues with those wearing glasses or helmets.

The drawback to earplugs is that they might not always fit. Ears may have to be positioned in certain angles, and when not installed properly the earplug will have a tendency to regularly slip out, which is a nuisance.

The answer to whether you should buy earmuffs or earplugs depends on your individual needs and preferences. Earmuffs are ideal for many situations, so long as you’re not in an environment filled with excessive heat and humidity, but because earplugs go right into your ear canal they offer complete noise protection.
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