In a couple of blogs posted not long ago, overprotection(1) and the need for situational awareness(2) were given as possible reasons why staff consistently failed to wear their hearing protection in high noise environments. There might be another valid reason for this – comfort, or rather the lack of it.
You may have provided employees a particular hearing protector (appropriately rated, one would hope) that has been selected for use. However, wearer dissatisfaction grows due to discomfort and your chosen hearing protector ends up not being worn, or not being worn properly. Consequently, exposure to noise returns as a risk.
It may have been beneficial instead to have offered staff a choice of the correctly rated hearing protection as a trial and personal comfort exercise, requesting their feedback. This allows the opportunity for employees to select a hearing protector most suited to them. In this way they may feel that their chosen model is more personal to them, and this encourages them to wear it at all times.
As it’s highly unlikely that earplugs or earmuffs alone can satisfy the needs of any particular working environment, samples of both should be supplied for the trials.
Advantages and disadvantages of using earplugs and earmuffs
There are advantages and disadvantages when using earplugs and earmuffs that both you and your employees should be aware of, and this may assist in the selection process. For example, fitting of earmuffs is not as critical to achieve the right amount of protection as is the case with earplugs, but on the other hand earplugs are less prone to interference from long hair, glasses, earrings, and other forms of headgear.
What are the further advantages and disadvantages that may be associated with earplug or earmuff use? And in which working environment is one type likely to be the preferred choice over the other? Find out by clicking the link below to get your free Factsheet.