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While most audiologists realize that exposure to power tool noise while wood working can be hazardous to your hearing, there are still others that are not convinced. Often they feel that they have been exposed to noise for such a long time more exposure it will not make much difference. Since there is already a hearing loss so….“So what, a little more noise will not make it that much worse and I hate those earplugs anyway!” Of course, this is the wrong idea as we know that further damage can not only impair hearing but can make tinnitus worse and possibly has other complications. Why Is Hearing Protection Important When Woodworking? The first thing you need to know is that hearing protection isn’t optional. You shouldn’t try to skip out or “be tough” in the place of hearing protection. Sound is measured in decibels. The major points on the scale are 0 decibels which is the threshold of hearing and 140 decibels is the threshold for pain. This doesn’t mean you should only worry about sounds that are around 140 decibels. In fact, you can experience hearing loss at extended exposure to sounds at a level of 90 decibels. These numbers don’t mean much if you are only casually familiar with decibel measurement. Instead, it’s important to explain these levels via comparison. Putting these numbers in perspective, rustling leaves are measured at about 10 decibels. Once you get up to 90 decibels, you are looking at a sound level of a tractor or an electric drill. By the time you get to 140 decibels and higher, these are sounds such as a plane taking off. Even higher than that are fireworks, a cap gun, a balloon pop, or gunshots. To put this into the context of woodworking, there are a lot of sounds in a shop or even in your garage that can be damaging. A benchtop planer recently reviewed by Toolsy can put off sounds at levels of 105 to 110 decibels. Even a handheld router offers 95 to 115 decibels. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that hearing protection be used for any prolonged exposure to sounds at 85 decibels.
1. Use hearing protection on infants and young children in noisy environments. Ear muffs are a great way to protect your child's hearing when he or she is exposed to noise as a very young child. Whether it is a sporting event, concert, or the movie theater, loud sounds can be damaging to young ears. Infant ear muffs are a safe and effective way to protect your babies ears from potential auditory damage. Most ear muffs are expandable which allows for years of use for children into toddlerhood and childhood. 2. Monitor the volume of electronic devices. Kids often cannot self regulate the volume of what they are listening to. It is important for parents to set the volume level and not let it exceed a certain volume level. Some devices allow you as the parent to set the maximum volume. If you can hear the sound from the earbud or headphone while the child is wearing it, it's too loud. 3. Limit time exposed to loud noise. The more time spent in loud noise, the more damage it can cause. When it comes to electronic devices, limit the child's exposure time to ensure the ears are not being over exposed to noise. 4. Create good hearing protection habits. Instruct the child to wear hearing protection consistently and enforce hearing protection rules from the start. Normalize wearing ear plugs or ear muffs in noisy places to encourage hearing health. 5. Know the facts about earbuds and headphones. Headphones are not always safer than earbuds. It is a common misconception that headphones don’t do as much damage as ear buds, and this is not true. Both types of hearing devices can cause damage if loud enough. Noise canceling headphones are sometimes used as a safer option, as they can eliminate noise that sometimes causes listeners to turn up the volume to hear over the noise. Although they still can reach very high volumes, this can be used to keep children from wanting higher volumes. 6. Be a positive hearing protection example. Show your child that it is important to you to protect your hearing and they will do the same. Turn down the volume of your TV or radio in the car to a safe level. 7. Use a sound level meter app to help judge environmental sounds. Sound level meter apps are not regulated, so they may not always be 100% accurate, but they can still be a helpful tool in gauging if sounds are too loud. Use them to measure the TV, sound machines in a child's room, music, gyms, daycares, or classrooms. 8. Educate yourself and your child on hearing health. Noise exposure causes hearing loss. Know what a healthy volume is and teach children the importance of protecting their own hearing. Early hearing protection use will help preserve your child’s hearing in the future. They will thank you down the road for protecting their hearing. 9. Obtain a baseline hearing test. It's never too early for a hearing exam. Whether you simply want a hearing baseline or if you have hearing concerns, it's always a good idea to reach out to an audiologist and have your child's hearing checked
Modern earmuffs with Bluetooth connectivity are improving safety on noisy job sites while simultaneously diminishing the need for workers to double up on hearing protection. With these new models, there is no need to also wear earplugs, though it may be required for intensely noisy environments. There are times in our lives when we know it’s going to be loud— really loud. It may be at work. It may be at home, or at play. This knowledge gives us the opportunity to plan ahead. We can protect ourselves from permanent hearing loss by taking precautions. You may be asking though: Are earplugs or earmuffs by themselves enough? Do you need more protection? Or is there a point at which the added hearing protection is negligible? Do earmuffs block out sound? Earmuffs are similar to the older-style headphones (that are now back in fashion). They completely cover the ears and can be fitted with noise-canceling technology. There are different earmuff types and sizes, for different purposes. If equipped with noise-canceling technology they will either use electronics to block sound or muffle them. Some are quite effective at silencing background sound. Often, though, if you work in an environment where you need earmuffs, you may have a pair that allow you to communicate electronically with your coworkers. Protecting your hearing with earplugs & earmuffs If you work in a noisy facility, you’re rarely exposed to ear-damaging sound regularly. There are usually specific rooms that are louder than others, or events that can cause the noise level to increase for a short time. A jackhammer, bead blaster, or arc welder would make this level of noise. In these cases, noise can exceed 100 decibels (dB). OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health) has rules in place to protect workers in this setting. A person can only be exposed to 90 dB for 8 hours. For every 5 dB, the sound goes up, the time allowed in that space gets cut in half. Employers must test the noise levels to be confident they’re compliant. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) requires that employees use dual protection when exposed to 105 dB for greater than 8 hours. Though these rules do protect workers, they still permit exposure to damaging noise levels. Damage begins at just 85 dB. Many employees are in job roles where they experience this level of noise, and their employer should provide extra protection with earplugs or earmuffs or both. How dual-protection impacts employee safety overall Balancing hearing protection and overall safety is paramount. There is also concern that dual protection may increase accident risk. This fear is a common concern among pilots, police, and soldiers but can be equally troubling for those in a construction or manufacturing setting. If sounds are blocked, these workers may not be able to hear well enough to avoid danger. People wearing double protection may experience: Tuning out — A state in which the mind drifts from what they’re doing because their hearing isn’t engaged Relaxation — Being overly relaxed in some work environments can be dangerous. Hyper-awareness — When we lose a sense, even temporarily, this can lead to over-compensation by the other senses. Some people experience dizziness and exhaustion as a result or an increase in stress. Hyper-alertness — Loss of a sense can lead to an odd or impulsive reaction as the person is on constant high alert. This alertness can be channeled into an asset or it can become a liability. Falling asleep — For a hearing person, not hearing can cause drowsiness. The person could accidentally fall asleep if they’re not moving. Employers must balance these risks with hearing protection. They can do this by providing training for those working in a soundless environment. They can additionally put visual cues and communication methods in place to help their employees stay safe. Finally, they can provide training on how to wear dual protection. Misuse these devices even over a short period of time can lead to permanent hearing loss. Because an employer must weigh the risks versus the benefits, there are times when dual protection would be overkill. Because of this, OSHA doesn’t mandate dual protection. Employers should also consider newer earmuffs, which allow workers to communicate. New earmuff technologies Several novel developments in earmuff technologies have been introduced that can help employers and employees mitigate some of the possible and perceived safety drawbacks associated with hearing protection. Earmuffs that address these safety tradeoff concerns are an important step in securing wide adoption of hearing protection policies. Employees and employers alike do not want to feel as though taking steps to protect their hearing will minimize their performance or their safety. New earmuff technologies are designed to minimize any such possible tradeoffs. Communication and hearing protection Some of the most recent earmuff innovations include impro
Hunting and shooting are two very popular pastimes in the United States. If you enjoy these hobbies, you understand the need to remain safe at all times and to protect your hearing health and wellbeing. Therefore, you might wonder whether it’s essential to wear protection during a session. The truth is that ear protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs, is imperative because they add an extra layer of security. It’s tempting to assume that your hearing is the last thing you should protect, yet it’s probably the most vulnerable part of your person. Here is a selection of the reasons wearing earplugs is critical for hunters and shooters, and the options available concerning protection. IT DULLS THE NOISE As a rule, the higher the decibel level, the louder the sound. And, it’s the decibels that have the biggest impact on your hearing, causing you to experience side-effects such as tinnitus and an inability to make out sounds. It’s crucial to remember that the noise a gun creates is substantial, with the NIDCD reporting that an average hunting rifle can release a 140-decibel blast. Any audiologist will inform you that the protective layers of the material enable ear protection to absorb the majority of the noise - from 20 to 30 dB - at close range. When this happens, the bones and hairs in your inner-ear are less exposed. HEARING LOSS ISN’T ALWAYS GRADUAL Usually, you would expect your hearing to decline over time. This occurs when hearing loss is natural, not when a foreign noise or object is to blame. With a decibel level of 140-plus, it’s vital to realize that any atrophy occurs very suddenly. After all, the ear cells might be damaged beyond repair. Thankfully, ear protection methods let you take part in your favorite hobby without having to fret about the short and long-term consequences. Earmuffs and earplugs are effective to the point where you can enjoy regular hunting or shooting sessions if they are to a high standard. THE SIDE-EFFECTS RANGE IN SEVERITY Do you assume that hearing loss is only concentrated to your ears? This is the biggest mistake people make because the side-effects are wide-ranging. They include, but aren’t limited to, the following: Cardiovascular disease Cognitive impairment Depression Risk of balance issues, such as trips and falls Social issues Isolation Many other challenges are associated with hearing loss, some that you might not recognize at first, so it’s important to take care of your ears to prevent future issues. The impacts of untreated hearing loss can escalate, too, which is why it’s better to nip in the bud early. HOW TO PROTECT YOUR EARS WHILE SHOOTING AND HUNTING In a perfect world, the solution would be as straightforward as wearing earplugs or earmuffs. However, they pose problems for shooters and hunters, including being uncomfortable and taking away from the experience. The latter is easy when you block out noises as you can’t hear the sounds of the animals giving themselves away. So, what are the alternatives? Here are the best ear protection methods currently. Earmuffs: Because they are designed to fit your head snugly, earmuffs reduce the majority of sounds, even at close range. If you’re worried about your hearing, these are the easiest and most effective options. Earplugs: Earplugs are brilliant for people who don’t enjoy the closeness of earmuffs. Earmuffs are tight, which impacts everything from your form to your mentality - you won’t shoot straight if you’re not focused on the target. As they are small and slender, you’ll hardly notice that you’re wearing them. Active ear protection: The two methods above are classed as passive ear protection. Active ear protection is different because it decides which noises are friendly and lets them pass into the ear canal. Therefore, hunters can continue to stalk their prey by listening for telltale sounds without worrying about them being drowned out. Active earplugs, typically electronic, are fast becoming the go-to choice for hunters and shooters who want to strike the ideal balance between their art and health.
The surest methods of preventing noise-induce hearing loss (NIHL) is to eliminate the source, or to reduce noise at the source by engineering methods. However, in certain situations, these measures are not possible. In such workplaces, workers may need to wear hearing protectors to reduce the amount of noise reaching the ears. What types of hearing protectors are available? Earplugs are inserted in the ear canal. They may be premolded (preformed), moldable, rolldown foam, push-to-fit, or custom molded. Disposable, reusable and custom earplugs are available. Semi-insert earplugs which consist of two earplugs held over the ends of the ear canal by a rigid headband. Earmuffs consist of sound-attenuating material and soft ear cushions that fit around the ear and hard outer cups. They are held together by a head band. What are the advantages and limitations of earplugs and earmuffs? Both types of hearing protection offer advantages and disadvantages. Earplugs can be mass-produced or individually molded to fit the ear. They can be reusable or disposable. On the positive side, they are simple to use, less expensive than muffs, and often more comfortable to wear when in hot or damp work areas. Some disadvantages are they provide less noise protection than some muffs, and should not be used in areas exceeding 105 dBA. They are not as visible as muffs, making it more difficult for supervisor to check to see if workers are wearing them. They must be properly inserted and inserted hygienically to provide adequate protection. Earmuffs can vary with respect to the material and depth of the dome, and the force of the headband. The deeper and heavier the dome, the greater the low-frequency attenuation provided by the protector. The headband must fit tightly enough to maintain a proper seal, yet not be too tight for comfort. Some advantages are that earmuffs usually provide greater protection than plugs, although this is not always true. They are easier to fit, generally more durable than plugs, and they have replaceable parts. On the negative side, they are more expensive, and often less comfortable than plugs, especially in hot work areas. In areas where noise levels are very high, muffs and plugs can be worn together to give better protection. The following table summarizes the differences between earplugs and earmuffs. Comparison of Hearing Protection EarPlugs EarMuffs Advantages: small and easily carried convenient to use with other personal protection equipment (can be worn with earmuffs) more comfortable for long-term wear in hot, humid work areas convenient for use in confined work areas Advantages: less attenuation variability among users designed so that one size fits most head sizes easily seen at a distance to assist in the monitoring of their use not easily misplaced or lost may be worn with minor ear infections Disadvantages: requires more time to fit more difficult to insert and remove require good hygiene practices may irritate the ear canal easily misplaced more difficult to see and monitor usage Disadvantages: less portable and heavier more inconvenient for use with other personal protective equipment. more uncomfortable in hot, humid work area more inconvenient for use in confined work areas may interfere with the wearing of safety or prescription glasses: wearing glasses results in breaking the seal between the earmuff and the skin and results in decreased hearing protection.
The world is full of loud noises, but some are particularly problematic for kids. A child’s ear canal is smaller than an adult’s, so the sound pressure generated is greater than in an adult’s ear. This means that loud sounds are even louder for small children. Their internal ear structures are fragile, more sensitive, and especially prone to noise-induced damage. Here are a few common causes of hearing problems for children: Loud toys – Noise-making toys are popular, but some might do their job too well; some can produce sounds above 120 dB! If it’s too loud for them to hold it next to their ear, think twice before buying or letting them play with the toy. Television volume – People tend to turn up the volume when watching television. This can sometimes be too loud for adults, let alone children (who can crawl close to the speaker). Events – Concerts, festivals, and sports events can be exciting and educational places to take your kids. They can also be very loud! Firework displays – Firework displays are guaranteed to be noisy, and short bursts of loud noise can still cause permanent hearing damage to adults and children alike. Household appliances – be careful not to use loud household appliances such as the vacuum, hairdryer, or blender too close to your children. Adults are used to these noisy home appliances, but they’re loud enough to damage your child’s hearing. White noise sleep machines – if you want to use an infant sleep machine test the sound output before leaving it in your child’s room, place it as far away from them as possible, and use the lowest volume setting. How Loud is Too Loud? Sounds are measured in decibels (dB), and generally, noises under 80 dB won’t harm a child’s hearing unless they are exposed for many hours. What is deemed a ‘safe’ sound is based on the duration of exposure, and it’s a good general principle to reduce your child’s exposure to any loud noise as and when you can. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that even very short bursts of extremely loud noise can cause permanent hearing damage. Monitoring your child’s environment and being aware of the sounds that they are regularly exposed to is a crucial part of minimizing your child’s exposure to loud noise. When noise is unavoidable, ear protection is your next best option. It’s important to keep in mind that the hearing damage caused by noise exposure is permanent (there is no way to ‘cure’, reverse, or completely treat the damage caused) and cumulative, meaning even one-off loud noises can eventually contribute to overall hearing loss.