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Ear Defenders

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Ears are extremely delicate and if inadequately protected in noisy environments, can be permanently damaged causing hearing loss. Most worryingly, hearing damage often goes unnoticed as it is most commonly cumulative for years as opposed to sudden damage.

Protection for hearing has gone from strength to strength with the introduction of the noise directive in 2006. On 6 April 2006, the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into effect in Great Britain for most industry sectors.

These regulations ensure hearing protection must be available for workplaces with persistent noise at 80 decibels (dB), and compulsory at 85 dB or higher. The objective of the Noise Regulations is to prevent hearing loss and/or permanent ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus).

The last line of defence against damage to your hearing is wearing ear protection. Employers have to provide it, and train workers on how to use it. Hearing protection products should conform to EN352 to qualify as a valid accessory for protecting the ears.

A series of characteristics are tested in order to determine whether ear protection products meet EN352 standards. Some of the areas for consideration are sizing and adjustability, headband force, cup rotation, and resistance to impact.

Ear defenders (EN352 -1) or earmuffs are hearing protectors which consist of two cups covering the ears, filled with foam or liquid. The cups are held in place by a wire or band.  This type of PPE is designed to protect the user from extreme frequency noise. Ear defenders are constructed with a thermoplastic/metal headband to ensure a secure fit, thus increasing the protection offered by the ear defenders and reducing noise.

Damage to the ears often goes unnoticed as it is most commonly cumulative over a period of years due to regular insufficient protection. Therefore the use of Ear Defenders is extremely important to aid the prevention of deafness in later life.

The materials used to create ear defenders shouldn't cause any irritation to the skin or allergic reactions. Ear defenders cannot have any sharp edges so they can be considered safe for use.

The rotation of the cups of ear defenders is assessed to determine if they rotate sufficiently. Wearers need this to adjust their devices and find the best fit.

Measuring headband force guarantees that the wearer's head will not be subjected to excessive force.

HML values indicate the level of sound reduction over three frequency ranges, H (High), M (Medium), and L (Low).

H (High): between 2000 and 8000Hz

M (Medium): between 1000 and 2000Hz

L (Low): between 63 and 1000Hz

SNR stands for Single Number Rating, which indicates an average value of protection over the relevant frequencies. As an example, an SNR value of 35 absorbs 100 dB and reduces it to 65 dB. See the chart below to identify which SNR rated product to use for certain decibels.

Noise Level (dB) Ear Protection SNR
85-90 dB SNR 20 or less
90-95 dB SNR 20-30
95-100 dB SNR 25-35
100-105 dB SNR 30 or more

What are decibels?

Decibels (dB) are the units used to measure the intensity of a sound. The smallest audible sound (almost total silence) is 0 dB. However, a sound 100 times more powerful than near total silence is 20 dB.

Risk Level Approx dB Type of Sound
Harmful 130 Riveting Hammers
120 Chainsaws
110 Nail Guns
Risky 100 Grinding & Cutting Wheels
Concrete Pouring
90
Drilling Concrete
Sandblasting
Band Saws
Safe 80 Busy Traffic
70 Car Driving
60 Normal Conversation
0 Silence

 

Selection of ear defenders 

Getting the right fit and protection is essential when choosing ear defenders. But there are other aspects to consider, such as:

  • Specific noise hazards

When choosing ear defenders, you must take into account the intensity, pitch and frequency. For example, miners can be exposed to low-frequency noise

  • Your industry and working environment

Noise exposure varies greatly between working environments. As a result, requirements differ accordingly. There are ear defenders specifically designed for certain professions and industries. Depending on the model, some ear defenders will only be for indoor or outdoor use - so make sure you check first.

  • Risk assessment

Working environment, user, and task are among the elements to analyse during a risk assessment. This will help employers identify employees in need of health surveillance.

  • Standards and certifications

Ear defenders, like any other personal protective equipment, must meet international standards. CE markings, EN, ISO and BS codes can help you identify which ear defender meets safety, design and performance standards. 

Finally, you should also consider decibels, Single Noise Ratings and frequencies explained above.

Tiger Supplies’ Ear Defenders

Tiger Supplies counts with a range of ear defenders to suit different working conditions and noise hazards. Some of our products have been designed for light industry applications while others are meant for use in medium-duty industrial and outdoor applications.

Large sound-absorbing foam-filled cups, multiple positioning for a better fit, and a plain surface for easy cleaning are some of the features that you will enjoy with our ear defenders.

You can select the right ear defender for you. Our product information includes:

  • Cup Material
  • EarPad Type
  • Headband Type
  • SNR Rating
  • HML
  • EN Standard

Contact us if you need assistance selecting the right ear defender for you.

How ear defenders can be used properly

Tiger Supplies’ ear defenders have been designed to fit tightly while covering your ears. Users shouldn't let glasses, hats, hair or jewellery interfere with the seal as this would create gaps. Keeping the seals clean is essential as well as avoiding stretching the headband.

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