Who Should Wear Ear Protection?
Ear protection has one purpose: preventing the onset of noise-induced hearing loss. Without it, noises over 85 dB can start damaging the tiny hair cells in your inner ears, which can never recover, leading to hearing loss. Your hearing healthcare professional can help you find the most effective ear protection on the market, but you may be wondering whether or not you need it. Here are some examples of environments, occupations and events that might necessitate ear protection.
Heavy traffic and construction equipment
Noises over 85 dB can start causing damage to the ears and heavy traffic is often around 85 dB. If you work in heavy traffic, like being a traffic warden or frequently driving in cities, you might need ear protection. Those working in construction settings are regularly exposed to unsafe levels of noise by a range of things, from handheld power tools to heavy equipment like forklifts.
Factories and manufacturing
Factories and manufacturing settings are rarely quiet. The average steel mill, for instance, produces noise of over 118 dB, which can cause permanent damage to your hearing in 20 minutes or less.
A jet engine is one of the loudest causes of occupational noise-induced hearing loss, measuring at 140 dB. Even if you work inside the plane, you should consider using ear protection. As you exit and enter the plane, you’re still going to be exposed to that noise. Neglect to protect your ears and you will experience noise-induced hearing loss more rapidly than even those in factories and construction environments.
Shooting range and fireworks
The noise of firearms differs, but will still often exceed 140 dB, making it just as dangerous without protection as a jet engine is. If you visit a shooting range recreationally or work at one, hearing muffs may be provided but it’s still wise to wear custom-molded ear protection underneath it at the same time. Fireworks can also reach this level of noise, so it’s best not to attend any firework shows without some protection.
Measuring in at 85 dB, the lawnmower is one of the most underestimated sources of noise-induced hearing loss. However, since we don’t consider it as loud as any of the environments or occupations named above, so we might not think of it a threat. However, if you work in landscaping, both lawnmowers and leaf-blowers can cause hearing loss if exposed to them for more than eight hours.
Concerts and other events
Besides fireworks, some other events are well known for being noisy affairs. There may not be much to worry about at a baseball game, but things like rock concerts and parades can be significantly more dangerous. These events often reach levels between 100 and 120 dBs, which means that exposure for over an hour (or 20 minutes in the worst case scenario) can cause permanent damage without ear protection.
If you don’t see your particular occupation or hobby above, but you spend time in environments that are just as loud, you might still need ear protection. Talk to your hearing specialist to get more information and to help you find the most effective equipment to safeguard your hearing.