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25 November 2022

Hearing Protection Guide: Choosing the Right Type of Hearing Protection PPE

Construction site with workers requiring hearing PPE

Hearing protection is incredibly important for employee wellbeing. So why is it usually the last type of PPE to be considered? Perhaps this is because there is so much emphasis on getting workwear right, catering to the specific on-the-job needs like being fire or acid resistant. Comprehensive safety plans should always include hearing protection, or at least enough checks to make sure whether it is necessary in the various links of your supply chain. This hearing protection guide will make it easier to do so, as well as point you in the right direction for finding the best PPE to ensure the safety of your employees. 


Poor Hearing Protection: Associated Risks

Loud sounds can do a lot of damage to the sensitive structures in the inner ear, causing issues like partial hearing loss, tinnitus or even total loss of hearing. In a nutshell, the louder the sound, the faster it can damage hearing. Exposure to anything above 85 decibels has a great chance of resulting in permanent hearing loss. This can come from something as simple as a single dynamite blast, a common occurrence on construction sites. Poor hearing protection might not result in visible damage per se, but it can severely inhibit your employee, to the point that you may end up dealing with litigation related to covering their related medical expenses. 


Industries That Need Hearing Protection

There are many different industries and sectors that require hearing protection, so it’s impossible to nail down a concrete list that covers it all. New technologies also mean that those that wouldn’t have required hearing protection previously may well now need to factor it into their operations. Any occupations related to being in an industrial setting, including construction, transport (like an airport), workshops or even in niche spaces like motorsports, needs to factor in the level of noise and how this might become a hindrance not only to employee hearing, but in terms of maximising efficiency on the job. 


How to Choose the Right Type

Choosing the right type of hearing protection PPE comes down to one primary consideration: the needs of the business. Depending on the levels of noise, frequency and likelihood of unforeseen noise entering into the supply chain, you’ll be able to nail down the best type. In spite of there being limited types of hearing protection PPE, there is no one size fits all solution. Some departments will have different needs than others, so skip investing in a bulk order for only a single type. Done with clear intentions, research and from gathering intel from workers on the ground, the best possible solution can be found. From there, it’s much easier to whittle down the list of potential options falling within your budget. 


A woman inserting an earplug, one of the most common types of hearing PPE


The Most Common Hearing Protection PPE

Before you start with your search, it’s good to know three of the most commoning hearing protection PPE types out there. Noise muffs, noise attenuating helmets and earplugs are all worth exploring, offering a range of pros and cons around each. Many PPE providers focus on the muffs and earplugs, as these are the easiest to manufacture and test for safety. Regardless of which type you go with, be mindful of the quality of the product you are buying. Safety gear should always be seen as an investment rather than an expense, as the latter might lead to on-the-fly buying of products that don’t pass the quality test in a way that guarantees less maintenance down the line. 


Following Industry Regulations

The good news about introducing any type of PPE into your operations is that you don’t have to go at it alone. On top of this guide, it’s essential to study up and get familiar with the standard regulations and requirements in your industry. You may well be in the thick of these already, but in a fast-paced global working landscape (largely brought on by the COVID 19 pandemic), things change. Keeping on top of these changes is the responsibility of the management team, ideally with a safety officer driving the process year-round. If you haven’t added one to your team yet, it’s important to prioritise this. They will be able to start with a safety audit, telling you what you need to invest in, as well as where there are gaps to try and cover moving forward. 


Prioritising Hearing Health with a Safety Officer

On top of employing a safety officer, you as the employer have the power to prioritise hearing health within the company vision for employee safety. Many leaders focus squarely on the right protective workwear in a more general sense, rather than digging into the specifics of what is going to not only keep employees safe, but also offer them peace of mind while on the job. Hearing health goes beyond PPE too. Training seminars, risk surveys and team input can all help with promoting it across different departments within the business. Some department heads might not even have thought about it as part of their strategies. If you’re going to take hearing health seriously within the staff contingent, everybody has to be on board and involved, starting with the leaders in the organisation.


Buying What You Need

The G.Fox team takes hearing health very seriously, offering clients across the continent many different types of hearing protection PPE. Our range includes thirteen different options, and counting. From high quality branded ear muffs to laserlite foam earplugs, corded and uncorded options, as well as reusable and disposable choices, we’ve got it all. You won’t struggle to find exactly what you’re looking for with our extensive range. If you’re unsure about the best option for your operations, chat to our team for some advice on the best way to go. It’s also a good idea to explore what your competitors might be using, especially if you are entering into a new market for the first time. Remember to consider industry regulations and guidelines, to stay curious about changes regarding these, as well as to prioritise hearing protection in your organisation as much as possible. The team will be thankful to retain something as precious as one of their five senses heading into the future, with peace of mind that you did everything possible to make this a reality. 

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