Loud noises on the worksite are irritating and dangerous. Short-term exposure to very loud worksite sounds can cause permanent nerve damage to the inner ear and hearing loss. Ear plugs are just one piece of hearing protection PPE that can be used to protect your ears—when worn properly, they can be used in noise up to 110 dB (roughly the noise level of a chainsaw, leaf blower, or snowmobile). The SparkPlug Foam Earplugs from Moldex has a noise reduction rating of 33, which is the highest NRR available for earplugs.
The key to making sure ear plugs are worn is to make them comfortable. The most popular style of earplugs are made of soft, non-irritating foam that can be worn for hours, but part of the comfort will come from wearing them properly. Before you get to work, follow these steps for proper earplug insertion.
- With clean hands, roll the earplug into as narrow of a tube as you can.
- With your free hand, reach over your head and pull your ear gently up and slightly out. This will open up your ear canal to make insertion easier.
- Insert the rolled-up earplug until it’s inside of your ear. Use a slight turning motion while inserting it. The entire plug should fit inside your ear with only a small amount protruding. Soft earplugs won’t damage your ear because they’re made to fit deeper and expand fully to protect your hearing. For a comfortable fit with less pressure, some Moldex earplugs come in a tapered shape.
- Hold the earplug in place for 30 to 40 seconds as the foam expands so that the plug can’t work its way out. It’s something you’ll hear and feel, which is a little strange but not painful or something to be worried about. If it doesn’t seem to fit properly, remove it and try again.
- Repeat on the other ear. If you’re wearing additional ear protection like earmuffs, put it on and make sure you have the proper fit before you get to work.
As long as your earplugs are clean and don’t have any rips or tears, you can reuse them. However, disposable earplugs are available if you don’t want to keep track of your earplugs between shifts.