Earplugs & Earmuffs: Two is Better than One

Published by Stephanie on Jun 6th 2012

Sometimes less isn't more, especially when it comes to your hearing. If you work in an extremely loud environment, a single pair of earplugs or earmuffs just doesn't provide as much protection as both together. Here are a few things you should know about the double protection provided by wearing earplugs and earmuffs at the same time. Earplugs and Earmuffs Provide the Greatest Defense Against Loud Noise at Work The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that since 2004, approximately 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss. Many of these workers didn't wear hearing protection because they felt it was just too uncomfortable or that hearing loss was simply unavoidable based on their line of work. Exposure to power saws, jackhammers, jet engines, drilling equipment, and other extremely loud motors in manufacturing and construction, as well as other extreme work site noise, can pose serious risk to a worker's ears. Of course hearing loss doesn't happen only at work. Guns fired at ranges - especially indoor ranges - NASCAR and other noisy sporting events, motorcycle riding and other recreational motor sports also have the potential to seriously affect a person's hearing. Typically the recreational noises don't reach the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) levels of hazardous noise exposure of more than 100 decibels over an 8 hour period, but they aren’t helping either. According to NIOSH, wearing double protection can provide an increase in protection of 5 to 10 decibels. Here are our picks for the most comfortable and best protection. We really like Moldex's 6800 Pura-Fit Foam Earplugs. They offer the highest independently tested Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 33 which makes them suitable for very noisy environments. These earplugs are so great that they have been declared the official earplug of NASCAR! In addition to being lightweight, they are made from low pressure foam material allowing for a snug fit without compromising comfort. The smooth finish on these earplugs also helps to prevent irritation of the skin and ear canal. The 6604 Spark Plug Foam Earplugs are also great for folks who may have smaller ear canals or find the pressure that comes after a day's wear intolerable. The slightly tapered ends allow for easy insertion and make them more comfortable over longer periods of time. As for what earmuffs to wear over your earplugs, a lot of our customers really like the Howard Leight Leightning L3 Hi-Visibility Ear Muff. Rated NRR 30, they offer very good hearing protection and the telescoping height adjustments helps to insure the best, most comfortable fit. The lime green color of the earcups makes them great for anyone working in a low light environment by offering enhanced visibility and the foam padded headband is also reflective. Here at PK Safety, the Howard Leight Sync Stereo Earmuffs are also a big hit. For just $29.15, they provide maximum protection while also offering terrific quality headphones with a handy adapter that can be plugged into your portable music player, computer, etc. We use these a lot around here to tune out noise and distractions to get work done. But I have to be honest, I haven't actually tried them while wearing earplugs while also working in a mine. You'll have to get back to us. All recommendations aside, keep in mind that the best hearing protection is one that a worker will wear both willingly and consistently. Whether you are on the job or off, always keep the safety of your hearing in mind and remember that sometimes more really is better. We are always here to help. If you have any questions about hearing protection give us a call at 800.829.9580. Thanks for reading.