Hearing damage from excessive exposure to loud noise is an occupational hazard, particularly in industry. That’s why it’s so important to provide effective hearing protection to anyone exposed to noise during their working day. And effective means right for the purpose, the person and their ear.
Howard Leight – part of Honeywell – have been promoting hearing conservation and manufacturing earplugs for over 30 years, so they know all about choosing, fitting and wearing them.
Choosing earplugs is not simply a case of picking a nice colour and shape.
Would foam or reusable earplugs be more suitable? Do you need trackable earplugs that can be detected if they drop onto the production line? And do you know how to fit an earplug correctly so it works effectively?
With 20 different Fix-A-Fit earplugs to choose from, Howard Leight have one to protect anyone’s hearing.
The first thing is to decide which type of earplug is the best fit for the user’s ear. Some people have round ear canal openings, some oval, some more of a slit, and women’s are often smaller.
No-one will keep an earplug in all day if it’s uncomfortable. So if a foam earplug doesn’t fit comfortably, check if the foam is too firm and choose a softer or low-pressure earplug instead. Also, for any type of earplug, check if it’s too big or too firm to bend round the ear canal.
Or perhaps it’s just been inserted wrongly.
Play it by ear
Inserting an earplug properly takes a little practice. It may cause some sensitivity as it’s pushed past the bend in the ear canal. It may even make you cough. This is normal and shows it has been inserted far enough, so don’t give up.
With a roll-down foam earplug, before you insert it you should first gently roll the foam to avoid creases, then more firmly to make the cylinder as small and stiff as possible. Then before the earplug expands again, reach over your head and pull out on your outer ear to open the ear canal. Some people may need to pull out and back instead, so have someone watch and tell you which direction opens your ear canal the most. Now gently insert the earplug past the bend in the ear canal.
If there’s a large amount of earplug left sticking out, it won’t protect properly. Rolling down the whole earplug, and making sure you push it past the ear canal bend, will do the job.
A wrongly-fitted earplug, or one that’s the wrong size or shape, will let noise leak in and allow hearing damage to occur. That’s why it’s essential to choose the right earplug and insert it correctly.
It a foam earplug looks U-shaped when it’s removed, then it hasn’t gone round the ear canal bend but has folded back on itself. If pulling the ear out to straighten the ear canal on insertion doesn’t work, try a reusable earplug with a firmer stem, so you can manoeuvre it around the bend more easily.
If a non-foam earplug is letting noise leak in, it may be the wrong size or the wrong shape. Firstly, try a larger earplug and see if that stops the noise , Secondly, as you may have an oval ear canal which a round earplug won’t fit properly, try a foam earplug instead.
Talk to your usual ERIKS service centre to help you choose the best earplugs for your applications. And to see how to fit foam earplugs correctly in the video below.