Whether you are looking for the best hearing protection for lawn mowing or any other hearing protection devices, you have two options: ear muffs or earplugs.
Most people are confused about the best pieces that they should go to.
To help you out, here is a detailed guide on how the two compare so that you can make the right decision.
What you will learn
What are earplugs?
Earplugs are ear protection units that feature small plugs that you insert into your ear canal thus blocking outside noise from getting in.
You can wear earplugs when you are around any source of loud noise.
This includes: when working around machinery, lawn equipment, power tools, aircraft, gunfire, sporting events, loud music, and explosives.
The purpose of wearing the pieces is to protect yourself from suffering from noise-induced hearing loss.
To protect your hearing, wear the pieces when you are being exposed to sounds that are louder than 85 decibels.
Who can wear earplugs?
As mentioned above, any person can wear plugs, but there are some people that are supposed to wear them more than others. The most common people that wear the pieces are:
- Workers who are in constant exposure to harmful noise levels
- Sporting event attendees such as football games, NASCAR, and many others
- Military personnel who are always exposed to gunfire and/or explosives
- Anyone using lawn equipment, power tools, or machinery for home or recreational use.
How to wear earplugs
Wearing earplugs is easy. Since most of the plugs are made from foam, all you need to do is to twist and push them into the ear canal. You should give them a minute or two and they will expand thus sealing the ear canal.
Types of ear noise-canceling earplugs
Did you know there are many types of earplugs in the market you can go for? Some of the most common are:
Disposable earplugs: They are the most common and often used by many people. From their name, you dispose of them after each use. They are made from foam and are often cheap.
They are ideal for use when you are only using them once. For example, when you are attending an event.
If you are always working with loud machines, it doesn’t make sense buying the disposable pieces as you will end up spending a lot of money in the long run. In such a scenario, you should invest in reusable pieces.
Reusable plugs: They are made from soft silicone and you can easily clean them after use so that you can use them at a later date.
These pieces are either corded or non-corded. Some brands pack them with a carrying case so that you can have an easy time carrying them around.
Custom noise earplugs: Finally, there are the custom earplugs. They are the most efficient at blocking noise. To get them, you only need to contact your local healthcare provider who will make the pieces for you.
Benefits of earplugs
There are a number of benefits that come with having earplugs. These benefits include:
- Small and easy to carry around
- You can easily use them together with other personal protection equipment (PPE). You can even wear them with earmuffs.
- When wearing the right pieces, they are comfortable and with good care, you can wear them for a long time
- Convenient for use in confined workspaces
- Best ones to wear in hot or humid work areas
Disadvantages of the pieces
Just as the pieces come with their advantages, they have their fair share of negatives. Some of their negatives include:
- When you choose the wrong ones you will have a hard time inserting and removing them
- You can easily misplace them
- May irritate the ear canal, especially if you suffer from allergies
- Not ideal for people suffering from ear infections
- You need to have good hygiene practices for you to use them for a long time without infecting yourself
How to maintain earplugs
For the pieces to last for a long time, you need to properly maintain them. Before you wear them, wash and dry your hands.
You should also inspect the pieces and if damaged, worn out, or dirty, replace them.
Are you using reusable earplugs? If you clean and take good care of them, they can last up to three weeks.
When cleaning them, use mild soap and water. When not using them, store them in a case away from extreme heat or sunlight.
If the earplugs are padded, clean and replace the pads as regularly as you need to.
What are ear muffs?
Earmuffs are ear protection devices made from plastic. When you buy the right pieces, they comfortably fit over your ears.
The pieces feature a thermoplastic or metal headband that fits over the top or back of the head. The pieces also have a cushion or cup at each end that covers the ears.
Types of hearing protection earmuffs
There are two main types of these earmuffs: passive and active earmuffs.
Active earmuffs feature electronic noise cancelation units that attenuate low-frequency noise. The pieces also feature a microphone, circuit, and speaker that cancels the noise.
When a signal enters the microphone, the electronics in the earmuff cast a signal back that cancels the signal.
Active headphones are highly effective when you are exposed to a continuous signal, usually, low frequency sounds such as heavy tractors, diesel locomotives and airfields.
Passive earmuffs attenuate the signal based on the material used in making them.
The units are usually made from cupped foam that is coated in hard plastic. The pieces block the sound due to the presence of thick foam with sound dampening properties.
Some passive earmuffs feature electronic components and microphones that allow you to communicate while at the same time attenuating noise.
These come in handy when working in areas where you need to hear the supervisor commands or you need to communicate with the coworkers.
Pros of earmuffs
- Noise-canceling earmuffs come with a number of pros. The most common ones being:
- Large: since they are big, you can’t misplace or lose them.
- You can wear them even if you are suffering from ear infections. This is because you wear them on the ear, unlike earplugs that you wear in the ear.
- Come in exciting designs, sizes, and colors to choose from
- When you buy the pieces with a collapsible design you will have an easy time transporting them
- Since you wear them on the ear, they are usually very comfortable
Cons of earmuffs
- When you buy large pieces, you will have a difficult time transporting and storing them
- You can’t easily use them together with other PPE. For example, you will have challenges wearing the pieces together with safety glasses and a hard hat.
- Uncomfortable in hot, humid workplaces
How to take care of earmuffs
Just like earplugs, you need to take good care of radio earmuffs for them to last for a long time and give you a great service.
One of the things you should do is to clean the earmuffs regularly. When cleaning them, avoid submerging them in water. You also should avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the pieces.
Properly maintained earmuffs can last for decades. Due to constant use, it’s common for the cushion and padding to wear out. When this happens, replace them as soon as possible.
While the pieces are made from tough plastic and metal, you should be cautious of where you use them. As a rule of thumb, avoid extremely hot environments.
Earmuffs vs. earplugs: which work better?
In my opinion, earmuffs are better than earplugs. In addition to earmuffs being more comfortable to wear, they also last for a long time.
They also attenuate the sound much better than earplugs.
While this is the case, if you will be exposed to loud sounds for only a short time, there is no point in investing in expensive earmuffs.
Just buy cheap earplugs that you can dispose of after getting out of the noisy environment.