Protect Your Hearing With the CDC

March 5, 2019

Working in building maintenance can be noisy experience, thanks to indoor cleaning tools like vacuums and outdoor maintenance equipment such as leaf blowers and lawn mowers.

How loud should a job be for workers to use ear protection? A good rule of thumb is if you need to shout to be heard, then you need ear protection, according to a new website from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on tips to prevent hearing loss. The most common types of hearing protection devices include earplugs, earmuffs, and specially made devices. The type you choose is based on personal preference. Each is effective if you wear it consistently and correctly.

To wear earplugs correctly:

  • Roll the earplug into a small, thin “snake” shape with your fingers.
  • Pull the top of your ear up and back with your opposite hand to straighten out your ear canal. The rolled-up earplug should slide right in.
  • Hold the earplug in with your finger. Count to 20 or 30 out loud while waiting for the plug to expand and fill the ear canal. Your voice will sound muffled when the plug has made a good seal.

Earmuffs work to block out noise by completely covering the outer ear. Muffs can be “low profile” with small ear cups or large to hold extra materials for use in extreme noise. Some muffs also include electronic components to help users communicate. Although they are an effective form of ear protection, earmuffs have several drawbacks including:

  • Workers who have heavy beards or sideburns or who wear glasses may find it difficult to get good protection from earmuffs. The hair and the temples of the glasses break the seal that the earmuff cushions make around the ear.
  • Some workers may feel that earmuffs can be hot and heavy in some environments.

Specially made hearing protection devices can be styled and sized specifically for a person’s individual ear. These devices include:

  • Custom earplugs molded to fit your ear.
  • Earmuffs with built-in radios or communication devices that allow you to listen to music or communicate with others while still protecting you from loud noise.
  • Level-dependent hearing protectors that do not block sound when the environment is quiet but block loud sounds when the environment suddenly becomes noisier.
  • Lightweight active noise cancellation headphones that reduce low-frequency noise, such as low-pitched droning sounds.

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