Ear protection - what you should know
Ear protection is available in many variants and can be either earplugs or ear cups/earmuffs. Here is a brief guide to how to choose the right ear protector:
1. Know the noise level
Noise/sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Your workplace has a duty to measure the noise level, but you can also make a habit of measuring it yourself. There are several different noise measurement apps that you can download to your phone, such as Sound Meter, Sound Master or Noise Exposure.
2. Read your ear protection SNR value
SNR Value (Simplified Noise Level Reduction) is a measure of the ear protector's attenuation (reduction) of general noise. The ear protector itself or its packaging is printed with the SNR value.
3. Subtract the SNR value from the noise level
When the noise at your workplace has been measured, the ear protection SNR value can be deducted from the measurement. The noise level must be down to 70-75 dB for the ear protector to sufficiently reduce noise. It is a requirement that ear protection is used when the noise level is at least 85 dB(A).
See this example:
- Noise level chainsaw: 109 dB
- The ear protector's sound attenuation (SNR): -34 dB
- Noise that the ear is exposed to = 75 dB
4. Check the ear protector's other features
The SNR value is important. But ear protectors may come with other benefits to influence your choice. You might want to consider the weight of the ear protector, wearing comfort and ease of cleaning. Or maybe you need an integrated radio or AUX input? Check out the market so you can compare the products.