85 decibels. That’s the noise measure at which repetitive exposure can bring on severe hearing damage.
100 decibels. That’s the sound measure reached by a rock concert, which is not-so-good news for performers or live concert goers.
It’s also part of a greater problem: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as much as 30 million people in the U.S. are subjected to to dangerous noise volumes, representing one of the top occupational risks over the prior 25 years.
And musicians aren’t the only ones at risk; here are some of the decibel levels associated with everyday work related activities: a power saw can reach 110 decibels, a newsprint press 97, a chain saw 120, a sporting event 105, and a jet plane takeoff 150. performers, manufacturing plant workers, construction workers, airport staff, emergency workers, plumbers, and carpenters are all at risk of developing significant hearing loss and tinnitus.
Work-related hearing loss affects countless numbers
Kevin Twigg of Stockport, England understands all too well about the occupational perils of noise. Twigg worked on evaluating and correcting police car sirens — which reach between 106 to 118 decibels — for more than 30 years.
After retirement, Twigg began to suffer intense tinnitus in addition to substantial hearing loss that mandated the use of hearing aids. Having failed to adopt the protective measures that would minimize the sound levels, Twigg’s employer was found responsible in court, losing a case in which Twigg would gain a large settlement.
This is a experience 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, craftsmen, and emergency and construction workers, but you can’t really make power saws and law enforcement sirens any quieter.
The solution? minimize the level of sound that enters your ear. Easy, right? Well…not so fast.
You could just travel to the community store and pick up some disposable foam ear plugs, but as it turns out, there is a much more suitable alternative.
The ideal alternative requires the use of custom-fit ear plugs, sometimes referred to as musicians plugs, that your hearing specialist can individualize specifically to you, your job, and your needs.
4 reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are significantly better than the off-the-shelf foam variety
Here are four reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are superior to foam ear plugs.
- conservation of sound quality
Standard foam ear plugs muffle speech and music. By decreasing noise principally in the high frequency range, rather than in the mid-to-low frequency range, music and voices appear to be unnatural and indecipherable. Foam ear plugs also decrease sound by 30-40 decibels, which is unnecessary for the prevention of hearing damage.
Custom-fit ear plugs will lower sound more smoothly across frequencies while reducing sound volume by a lower decibel level, thereby maintaining the organic quality of speech and music.
- avoidance of the “Occlusion Effect”
With foam ear plugs, the user will hear a hollowed out or boomy sound in their voice when speaking, singing, or playing an musical instrument. This bothersome sound is referred as the “occlusion effect.”
Custom-fit ear plugs are shaped to the ear, creating a deep seal that prevents this distracting sound.
- cost & convenience
Custom ear plugs can keep working up to four years, in most cases at a price of well under $100.
Let’s do some math on the disposable 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 visits to the store. No one looks forward to picking out ear plugs, so while the first visit to the audiologist seems like a pain, in the long run you will also save yourself time.
- preserving the environment
Throw-away ear plugs generate a lot of waste:
5 days per week X 52 weeks per year = 260 pairs of foam ear plugs thrown out every single year.
Schedule an appointment and give protection to your ears
The many advantages of custom-fit ear plugs speak for themselves.
If you work in a job that exposes you to a high risk for hearing damage, or if you attend noisy 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 preserve the quality of sound.