Your ears are very important. One of your five senses, the loss of your hearing is like losing your ability to taste, touch, or smell. As a result, it is very important that you protect your ears whenever you can at work. Under Canadian law, your employer must provide you with hearing protection if you are in an environment where noise could cause long-term damage to your hearing.
Proper hearing protection, under the Canadian Standards Association are devices that are comfortable enough to be accepted and worn, and provide adequate protection.
There are three kinds of hearing protectors you can choose from:
1. Ear Plugs: These are inserted into the ear and they block the ear canal. They can be pre-molded, and they are sold as a disposable product.
2. Semi-Insert Ear Plugs: These are two ear plugs that are held over the ends of the ear canal by a headband.
3. Ear Muffs: These are made of sound-attenuating material that fit around the ear and have hard outer cups, held together with a head band.
If you are in an environment where the noise is not constant, ear muffs are the best choice as they can easily be removed without having to mold to your ear canal like ear plugs.
All ear protection manufacturers provide noise reducing capabilities in a Noise Reduction Rating number. This number will show how much it will reduce the decibels you are hearing while at your workplace.
In choosing between ear plugs and ear muffs, it is important to know the advantages. For ear plugs, the advantages are they are small and easy to carry, comfortable in hot and humid conditions and convenient when you are in a confined area. The disadvantages are they require time to fit, they can be difficult to insert and remove, they can irritate the ear canal and they can be misplaced.
For ear muffs, the advantages are they are a one-size fits all solution, they are not easy to lose, they can be worn if you have an ear infection and they can be seen from a distance. The disadvantages are they are heavier and les portable, they are uncomfortable in confined, as well as hot and humid areas, and they can interfere with the wearing of other safety equipment or glasses.