When an employee’s noise exposure cannot be reduced to safe levels, then hearing protection must be worn. There are several options for hearing protection available that include ear plugs, ear muffs, and hearing bands, which are also known as canal caps. Each should be carefully considered for the noise reduction they will provide, as well as for comfort and fit. EHS assists departments with hearing protection selection to ensure that these variables are properly addressed. See the Noise and Hearing Conservation page for more information about our Hearing Conservation Program.
Typical Hearing Protection Devices
- Pre-molded Ear Plugs - Come in different sizes and shapes to fit different sized ear canals. They have virtually no expansion or contraction, so obtaining a good seal with the ear canal may be challenging.
- Formable or Foam Ear Plugs - When placed in the ear correctly, this type of ear plug, will expand to fill the ear canal and seal against the walls. This expansion allows foam ear plugs to fit ear canals of different sizes.
- Ear Muffs - These devices fit against the head and enclose the entire perimeter of the external ear. The inside of the muff cup is lined with acoustic foam, which reduces noise. Their effectiveness depends on how tight the seal is between the foam cushion and the head.
- Hearing Bands or Canal Caps - These devices cover the ear canal at its opening. They do not provide as much of a seal inside the ear canal and generally provide less protection than ear muffs or plugs, so they are typically not recommended.