Hearing Protection

Hearing Protection In-use Photo
Before selecting an earplug or earmuff, it is helpful to monitor the level of noise to know how much protection is needed. It is also very useful to understand some of the basic terminology in order to pick the right hearing protection.
Use the tabs below to find out more about selecting the proper hearing protection Earplugs
NRR Ratings

The performance of earplugs and earmuffs varies between brands and styles. One way to choose a hearing protector is to compare Noise Reduction Ratings. The Noise Reduction Rating, or NRR, measures the muff's or plug's ability to block out noise or "attenuate"; sound. This measurement is stated in decibels; a plug with an NRR of 26 blocks out a maximum of 26 decibels of noise. The NRR listed is the maximum protection that could be achieved if the plug fit the wearer perfectly and was inserted correctly. In most work situations attenuation is half of the listed NRR. For example, if the NRR is 30 the hearing protector most likely blocks out 15 decibels of noise.

All of the earplugs and muffs we stock have been tested by an accredited laboratory that assigned an NRR rating. As you look through our selection, look for the NRR rating by each style of protection.
How damaging are your work activities?

Chart lists common sounds and their decibel ratings
0 dB
Lowest audible sound
50 dB
Quiet empty barn, babbling trout stream, gentle breeze
60 dB
Normal conversation
70 dB
Chicken coop, farrowing area
85 dB
Tractor or combine idling, barn cleaner, conveyor, elevator: You can begin to lose your hearing at this dB if you're exposed to it for eight (8) hours or more per day.
90 dB
Blower compressor, pneumatic wrench, chopping silage (no cab), full-throttle mower: If you are exposed to noises at this level for four (4) hours or more per day, hearing loss can occur.
100 dB
Tractor at 80% load, squealing sows, power tools, hand-held metal grinder: One hour of exposure per day is the limit at this decibel level.
110 dB
Average walkman set above the halfway mark, full-throttle combine, 10-HP vane-axial barn fan: Anything over 15 minutes exposure per day can cause damage.
120 dB
Thunderclap (near), sandblasting, bad muffler, old chain saw: The danger is immediate.
140 dB
Gunshot, engine back-fire, dynamite blast, jet engine. Any length of exposure time is dangerous and may actually cause ear pain.
As noise gets louder, damage can occur sooner. There is no "cure" for hearing loss. This chart is only a guideline. Anything over 85 dB can be damaging to your hearing.
Chart provided courtesy of the National Farm Medicine Center

Noise Monitoring Equipment

How do you know if noise is damaging your hearing?

You may have a problem if you:
• Hear ringing, other noises or a fullness in your ears
• Can't hear people when they talk to you
• Can't hear high pitched or soft sounds.

How to choose a hearing protector
All hearing protection equipment has pros and cons. Not one hearing protection device is best for all operations. Skim this list of pros and cons and then apply it to your operation. Weighing cost, ease of use and protection, which equipment is best for your operation?

Click here for our sound level meter
Disposable Ear Plugs

•  Fits many different ear canals
Usually has higher NRR compared to other protective devices
Initially less expensive compared to others
Maintenance free; can toss instead of clean
Can be difficult to insert
May not  be inserted so gives you the highest possible NRR
More expensive over time
Disposable Earplugs
Reusable Ear Plugs
•  Easily inserted and worn
More economical over time compared to disposable plugs
Pre-formed so does not fit as wide a variety of ear canals as disposables
Must take time to clean to avoid infection
Reusable Earplugs
Earmuffs and Stereo Earmuffs

•  Easy to use and wear
Can get stereo muffs, which makes working more fun and comfortable, and also more productive
Requires less training to use correctly compared to plugs
More economical in the long run compared to earplugs
Needs more storage space
Must take time to clean to avoid infection
Sometimes gets more uncomfortable in warmer weather compared to plugs
Can make wearing other PPE such as glasses more cumbersome