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How To Choose The Right PPE For Ear Protection?

Best PPE For Ear Protection!

Foam Earbuds

Industries are equipped with heavy machinery, chemicals, high temperatures, and whatnot? Before individuals work in an industry, they are made well aware of the perils, hazards, and mishaps that could possibly happen. Occupational safety & health is given utmost importance as human lives cannot be risked. 

One such aspect of prevention & protection is the use of Personal protective equipment aka PPE. These are equipment that is used to protect different body parts. Right from head to toe, every body part can be protected using PPE. In this article, we are specifically discussing different types of PPE for ear protection.

Why Do We Need PPE For Ear Protection?

Woman wearing foam earbuds

Industries often are equipped with loud & heavy machinery. Many operations that are carried out in industries like construction, food processing, metallurgy, manufacturing, and many others use huge machines which produce sound in the range of 80 to 120 dBA. Operations like crushing, metal cutting, drilling, and others often are carried out in many industries. In such unavoidable situations where the noise is due to happen, individuals must safeguard themselves.

One must understand that in many nations, including the US, the permissible noise limit is 85 dBA. Above this noise limit, individuals are advised to use safety equipment. OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) has regulated a few guidelines for the individuals working in the industries. Noise has been classified as an occupational hazard in various industries. There is an upper threshold of the noise (140 dBA) that must not be exceeded in any condition.

Apart from industries, studies have found out that many individuals working in the sectors of agriculture, military, mining, and transportation are exposed to noise too. Such individuals are advised to equip themselves with safety gear too. It is estimated that about 10 to 20 percent of individuals working in the above-mentioned sectors and industries are exposed to noise above 85 dBA without proper safety gear. This is the situation of developed industrialized nations. The situation could be worse in other nations.

Woman wearing earmuffs

Apart from these situations, lack of safety gear against noise can cause noise-related hearing impairment. Impaired hearing is one of the highest reported occupational disorders. Many cases of permanent ear damage are also reported. So, to protect ourselves, it becomes necessary that one must don PPE for ear protection. PPE for ear protection is designed & tailor-made for specific noise levels. They ensure proper ear protection & do not allow noise to have damaging effects.

What Are The Different Kinds Of PPE for Ear Protection? 

Noise can damage our ears. So, there are different PPE for ear protection. The most commonly used PPE for ear protection are earbuds and earmuffs. This PPE reduces the noise level that reaches the ear. This noise level reduction can be determined by a rating provided for the PPE. Noise reduction rating gives an individual a clear idea of the extent up to which the noise is reduced.

Curious ones can check out our blog on different types of PPE that are worn in an industry.

NIOSH recommends double protection if an individual is exposed to noise above 100 dBA. Double protection means donning earbuds as well as earmuffs. This ensures that the ear damage due to noise is minimized to a great extent. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the required ear protection PPE. Let’s look at a few PPE for ear protection in detail.

Woman wearing an earbud


This PPE is often noise-canceling earbuds that fit into the ear canal. It is considered to be an internal type of ear protection PPE. There are various types of earbuds according to the material of construction, design, and other factors. The widely used one is the foam earbuds. They are expandable & can adjust according to the size of the ear canal. These earbuds are easy to use, insert & carry. They are often disposable.

Note: It takes time to get accustomed to these earbuds.

Woman wearing ear protection PPE


Earmuffs are an external type of ear protection. These PPE fits on the external ear. The external ear and head are covered by the cushions of the earmuffs. The cushions are often adjustable. They are easy to use, provide extra protection as well as excellent noise cancellation. Many people feel uncomfortable wearing earmuffs.

Note: The cushions of the earmuffs should be cleaned regularly. Lack of cleanliness can irritate the skin, and in some cases, even worse. 

For more details check out our blog on maintenance & storage of PPE.

Canal Caps

This PPE is also known as a semi-aural device. They have a headband with earplugs at the tip. They can be considered as a crossbred between earmuffs & earbuds. They are preferred by individuals due to their flexibility & convenience. 

How And When Do We Use PPE for Ear Protection?

PPE for ear protection is widely used whenever the noise level exceeds 85 dBA. If the noise exceeds 100 dBA, then double protection (earbuds & earmuffs) is highly recommended. Donning PPE for ear protection is relatively simple. Anyone who uses earphones or headphones can easily wear PPE for ear protection.

Check out the difference between dB & dBA.

How to Wear Foam Earbuds?

  1. Roll Earbuds into a cylinder.
  2. Squeeze the earbuds and place them comfortably into the ear canal.
  3. The earbuds expand to fit the ear canal.
Woman wearing Ear protecting PPE


Industries & workplaces are often risky and have many occupational hazards. Surely, the noise wouldn’t be on the list of top occupational hazards, noise indeed is one of the most dangerous hazards. For protection against noise and safeguarding the hearing ability of an individual, PPE for ear protection is of utmost importance. Earmuffs, earbuds, and canal caps are the most used PPE for ear protection. They are simple to wear, use, and remove.