85 decibels. That’s the sound measure at which repeated exposure can result in severe hearing damage.
100 decibels. That’s the sound level hit by a rock concert, which is not-so-good news for musicians or show goers.
It’s also part of a much larger problem: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), around 30 million people in the U.S. are exposed to unsafe noise levels, representing one of the top work-related threats over the previous 25 years.
And performers aren’t the only ones at risk; here are some of the decibel levels associated with normal work related activities: a power saw can reach 110 decibels, a newspaper press 97, a chain saw 120, a sporting event 105, and a aircraft takeoff 150. music players, manufacturing plant workers, construction workers, airport personnel, emergency personnel, plumbers, and craftsmen are all at risk of developing extreme hearing loss and tinnitus.
Work-related hearing loss affects thousands
Kevin Twigg of Stockport, England understands all too well about the work-related risks of noise. Twigg worked on screening and fixing police car sirens — which reach between 106 to 118 decibels — for more than 30 years.
After retiring, Twigg started to experience severe tinnitus in addition to substantial hearing loss that required the use of hearing aids. Having failed to take on the protective methods that would mitigate the noise levels, Twigg’s employer was found responsible in court, losing a case in which Twigg would win a considerable settlement.
This is a narrative that is all too familiar: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 alone there were 21,000 occurrences of occupational hearing loss reported.
How to protect your ears at work
So here’s the problem: the world needs performers, contractors, and emergency and construction staff, but you can’t make power saws and law enforcement sirens any quieter.
The answer? decrease the level of noise that comes in through your ear. straightforward, right? Well…not so fast.
You could just drive to the local store and pick up some disposable foam ear plugs, but as it turns out, there is a much more advantageous alternative.
The preferred method requires the use of custom-fit ear plugs, often times referred to as musicians plugs, that your hearing practitioner can tailor specifically to you, your occupation, and your preferences.
4 reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are superior than the off-the-shelf foam variety
Here are four reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are superior to foam ear plugs.
1. Preservation of sound quality
Basic foam ear plugs mute speech and music. By suppressing noise mostly in the high frequency range, rather than in the mid-to-low frequency range, music and voices appear to be unnatural and unclear. Foam ear plugs also diminish sound by 30-40 decibels, which is not needed for the deterrence of hearing injury.
Custom-fit ear plugs will lower sound more consistently across frequencies while lessening sound volume by a lower decibel level, thereby maintaining the natural quality of speech and music.
2. Prevention of the “Occlusion Effect”
With foam ear plugs, the wearer will perceive a hollow or boomy sound in their voice when speaking, singing, or playing an instrument. This bothersome sound is known as the “occlusion effect.”
Custom-fit ear plugs are shaped to the ear, forming a deep seal that helps prevent this distracting sound.
3. Cost & Convenience
Custom ear plugs can last up to four years, ordinarily at a price tag of well below $100.
Let’s do some calculations on the throw-away foam plugs:
$3.99 for 10 pairs equals $0.39 per pair
$0.39 per pair X 5 days per week X 52 weeks per year X 4 years = $405.60
With custom-fit ear plugs, you will save cash in the long run and will avoid all of those journeys to the store. No one enjoys purchasing ear plugs, so while the initial visit to the audiologist seems like a burden, in the long run you will also conserve time.
4. Preserving the Environment
Throw-away ear plugs create a lot of waste:
5 days per week X 52 weeks per year = 260 pairs of foam ear plugs tossed out each year.
Schedule an appointment and protect your ears
The advantages of custom-fit ear plugs speak for themselves.
If you work in a occupation that exposes you to a high risk for hearing damage, or if you participate in booming shows or sporting events, schedule an appointment with a hearing consultant today. Custom-fit ear plugs will protect your ears, and distinct from the disposable foam varieties, will also maintain the quality of sound.