Selection and Use Of Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs)

Hearing protection devices, or HPDs, come in all shapes and sizes. There are many different types of hearing protection devices HPDs on the market, so it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of HPDs and how to select the right one for your needs.

Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common occupational injuries in the United States. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), exposure to loud noise can cause permanent damage to your hearing. This type of hearing loss is preventable, but once it occurs, it cannot be reversed. That’s why it’s so important to protect your hearing while you are working in noisy environments.

HPD Selection and Use

It is essential to the success of the program to have someone responsible for the selection of hearing protection devices and the supervision of their use. They must be able to evaluate and select appropriate devices for each employee, based on proper fit, the employee’s noise exposure, hearing ability, communication needs, personal preferences, and other constraints imposed by job tasks or work environment.

  1. Earplugs come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials and can be reusable and/or disposable. Earplugs are designed to occlude the ear canal when worn.
  2. Earmuffs are another type of hearing protector. They are designed to cover the external ear and thus reduce the amount of sound reaching the inner ear. Care must be taken to ensure that the seal of the earmuff is not broken by safety glasses, facial hair, respirators, or other equipment, as even a very small leak in the seal can destroy the effectiveness of the earmuff.
  3. Hearing bands are a third type of HPD and are similar to earplugs, but with a stiff band that connects the portions that insert into a worker’s ears. Hearing bands may not provide the same noise attenuation as properly fitting earplugs, as the portions that fit into the ears are stationary and cannot be twisted into place like earplugs.
Requirements For Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs)

Earplugs, earmuffs, or hearing bands alone might not provide sufficient protection from significantly high noise levels. In this case, workers should wear double hearing protection- earmuffs with earplugs. Avoid corded earplugs, as the cord would interfere with the muff seal. Additionally, hearing bands cannot be worn with earplugs or earmuffs, as the connected band would interfere with the muff seal, and there is no room to insert earplugs at the same time.

Fitting HPD’s

When fitting hearing protectors, attention needs to be given to each ear. It is not uncommon for a person to have right and left ear canals that are different sizes and must, therefore, be fitted with earplugs that are separately sized for each ear.

Ear canals should be inspected to assure that no physical problems, such as infections or excessive ear wax, will compromise or complicate the use of hearing protectors. Other employer requirements for providing hearing protection include:

  • Employees must be given the opportunity to select their HPDs from a suitable variety. Generally, this should include a minimum of two devices, representative of at least two different types.
  • The employer must provide training in the use and care of all HPDs provided to employees.
  • The employer must ensure proper initial fitting of HPDs and supervise their correct use.

Program implementers should be alert for common pitfalls associated with use and care of hearing protectors. For example, motorcycle helmets, personal stereo headsets, swimmers’ earplugs, and hearing aids cannot be substituted for hearing protectors. Program implementers should be proactive in working with employees to avoid such pitfalls.

About Waqar Ali

My name is Waqar and I am a Health and Safety Advisor at Laing O'Rourke, one of the leading construction companies in the UK. I have always been passionate about safety and have pursued a career in this field to make a positive impact on people's lives.

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