Posted by OBBCO Safety & Supply on 10/15/2015
Fall is a time of downed trees and limbs, which means
chainsaws, bush hogs and chippers get a workout. When wood-cutting tools are in use, chances
are your ears are getting a workout, too. Chain saws can have a sound intensity of 110
dBA, which means operating for only two minutes without ear protection can
damage your hearing.
If you’re working with power tools or heavy equipment this
fall, make sure you choose the right ear protection for the job. There is a difference between ear plugs and
ear muffs – each has their use and performance objectives.
Ear plugs are designed to do just that – plug the ear canal
and prevent noise from reaching the ear drum.
The most popular are foam that are compressed before inserting in the
ear, and then expand to fill the space.
In general, ear plugs are simple to use, less expensive than ear muffs
and are more comfortable in hot and damp work areas. They can provide less protection than high-quality
Ear muffs feature a padded dome that covers the entire ear,
and a head or neck band to hold the dome portion flush against your skin. Ear muffs generally provide more protection
than plugs, and are easier and faster to put on. They can be less comfortable and can get in
the way in confined spaces (not usually an issue in outdoor wood-clearing
Ear muffs can also be more inconvenient when using other
personal safety equipment such as goggles, safety glasses, respirators and
hoods. Wearing glasses usually breaks
the seal of the dome around the ear, meaning you have decreased hearing
We have found the ear muffs from 3M offer a variety of
performance levels, with the Peltor Optime offering 105 dBA of protection. 3M also provides a number of ear plug solutions, including corded, cordless, pots, push-in plugs and others. The E-A-R E-A-RSOFT are particularly popular,
rated to 33 dBA of protection.
Our suggestion: consider what additional safety gear you
will be wearing, whether you wear glasses, the work environment and your own
comfort. If the environment will result
in noise exposure over 100 dBA (running a chain saw, for example), most safety
and health organizations will recommend wearing both ear plugs AND ear muffs
for maximum protection.
You can learn more about noise and hearing loss prevention
on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/prevention.html.