Worn properly an earplug like the Howard Leight Max NRR 33 can be used in noise up to 110 dB(A). 110 dB is roughly equivalent to someone blowing a whistle a couple feet from your ear. Aside from being extremely irritating, it’s very dangerous for your ear. 120dB is typically recognized as the pain threshold and the point where damage to your ear can happen very quickly.
On their website, the Howard Leight company writes that the best earplug is the one that is worn properly, and we might add comfortably. We’ve found over the years that safety equipment that is comfortable and easy to wear is more likely to be used than alternates that are cumbersome or irritating.
To help you wear your ear plugs both comfortably and properly, we've taken a couple pictures to demonstrate the proper technique.
To properly fit an earplug, here are a couple of easy to use tips that will make it easier and more effective.
Roll the ear plug with clean hands into as narrow a tube as you can.
Reach over your head with your free hand and pull you ear gently up and slightly out to help open up the ear canal.
Insert the rolled up earplug with a slight turning motion until it is well inside your ear canal. The entire length of the plug should fit inside the ear with only a small amount protruding. (See photos). Hold the ear plug gently in place for 30-40 seconds as the foam expands so it doesn’t work its way out.
If the ear plug doesn’t seem to fit properly, remove it and try again. If you are new to wearing ear plugs, there is a natural tendency to only put a small amount of the plug into the canal. These soft earplugs will not damage the ear, and are made to be fit deeper and to expand fully to best protect your hearing.
Once you have inserted the ear plug, you will hear and feel it expand to fill the canal. If you are not used to this, it can be an odd, but not a painful, sensation. As long as the ear plugs remain clean and free from rips and tears they may be re-used, but at our great prices, you may as well treat yourself to a new pair each time you need ear protection.
Even short exposure to very loud sounds can permanently damage the nerves of your inner ear. We look at the best ways to protect your hearing while on the job.