Understanding Ear Defender Regulations & the Different Types of Ear Protectors

Ear Defender Regulations

Understanding Ear Defender Regulations & the Different Types of Ear Protectors

Ear protectors are PPE specially designed to protect the wearer from excessive levels of noise and avoid the risk of hearing-loss and other related medical conditions. By law, employers must assess the workplace to identify the levels of noise hazards and chose the right type of ear protectors. In order to do this, it is essential to be familiar with ear defender regulations.

Ear defender regulations

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force in 2006 and applies to all workplaces. According to the regulations, employers must provide hearing protection when workers are exposed to a daily or weekly noise level of 85 dB (decibels), while an assessment is required starting from 80 dB. The workplace limit is 87 dB when including any noise reduction provided by hearing protection. By requiring all employers to carry out an assessment of noise levels, the regulations aim at protecting all workers against health issues related to hearing loss, as well as making sure that they are always able to hear warning and instructions properly. To comply with ear defender regulations, all ear protectors must meet the EN352 European Standards.

How to decide on ear protectors

When deciding on the type of ear defenders to buy, it is extremely important to consider several factors, starting from the type of industry, the type of noise hazard, its frequency, its pitch and for how long your workers are exposed to it. To do so, you can record the sound through a professional sound level meter and then enter it into a noise exposure calculator, which will then help you work out your daily and weekly noise exposures and estimate the performance of hearing protection required. This will tell you what is the Single Number Rating (SNR) level that hearing protection devices must provide for each task to be effective.

Decibel (dB) Protector must provide a SNR of
85-90 20 or less
90-95 20-30
95-100 25-35
100-105 30 or more

Types of ear defenders

Once you are aware of the noise levels in your workplace and you know what SNR will comply with ear defender regulations, you can select the type of ear protectors. Ear protectors are divided into Ear Muffs and Ear Plugs.

Ear Muffs

Ear muffs are usually preferred by people working in construction and landscaping. They cover the ears but they do not enter the canal, so they can be the perfect option when workers are not able to fit ear plugs. They can be placed over the head, which makes them easy to fit. However, during summertime or in hot weather conditions they can cause discomfort to the wearer. They come in a variety of styles and designs to meet all needs: classic ear muffs, electronic ear muffs, clip-on ear muffs that can be attached to the helmet and folding ear muffs, which are more practical to carry in one hand and the ideal choice for compact storage. It is also possible to find combi kits containing helmet, ear muffs and visor for enhanced head protection.

Ear Plugs

Unlike ear muffs, ear plugs fit directly into the canal and therefore provide higher levels of protection, which makes them ideal for all those workplaces where noise levels are high, such as airports and factories. They are very light and practical to carry and can be easily worn with other types of PPE, even though in some cases they can be more difficult to fit, for example for people with ear infections. Ear plugs are usually made of foam or silicone, and they can be disposable or reusable.  They can come with a cord or a headband that can be placed behind the neck for improved stability.

Now that you are familiar with ear defender regulations and the different types of hearing protectors, browse our full selection of high-quality ear defenders and find the best option to protect your employees!

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