1. Thank you for visiting HeavyEquipmentForums.com! Our objective is to provide industry professionals a place to gather to exchange questions, answers and ideas. We welcome you to register using the "Register" icon at the top of the page. We'd appreciate any help you can offer in spreading the word of our new site. The more members that join, the bigger resource for all to enjoy. Thank you!

Improvements in Hearing Protection...

Discussion in 'Safety Issues' started by SeaMac, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. SeaMac

    SeaMac Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2012
    Messages:
    549
    Occupation:
    Semi-Retired Electrical, General and Engineering C
    Location:
    26.83307 -80.104484
    As in my other post on the improvements in Safety Glasses I speak from personal experience. I have lost 40% hearing in my right ear and 15% in my left, my Doctor has confirmed the loss is due to exposure to loud noise. If I only knew then what I know now things would have been different, I feel strongly that I owe it to those just starting in the industry or those that still have a chance to protect themselves from the effects of working in the construction industry.

    It is sad to report that most employers will only do the minimum that OSHA requires, sadder still that most safety personnel exist only to protect the company not the employee. It therefore behooves US to take ownership and responsibility for our own safety. That said here's what I now know about hearing protection.

    Those miserable little foam ear plugs we're usually given only work if we wear them and they do actually work to a degree. However they are uncomfortable to wear all day long, we take them out during breaks or to carry on a conversation then with dirty hands we squish them up and put them back in making it even more uncomfortable and usually making our ears raw. And they look ridiculous in the process but, vanity has no place in personal safety.

    My Doctor recommends a particular product and I wear them religiously and not just me, Soldiers, Police SWAT and Fire Fighters swear by them and it goes without saying these fine folks work in far more hazardous situations than we will ever do, thank goodness for that too. They're made by a company called Surefire and the product is called EarPro there is no One-Size-Fits-All you choose the ones that fit and you don't need to throw them away at the end of the day, just clean them off and use 'em again and again.

    What's so good about them? Well, they're actually comfortable to wear all day long and you can have a conversation without taking them out. They only suppress loud noise through a technology you can read all about on their website. Again, I am not into marketing for any company but these are the best ear protection I have ever used or owned and they REALLY work. Yes, they are somewhat on the pricey side but you don't need to throw them away because they will last for quiet some time. But just like Safety Glasses, Work Boots and so on, what price DO YOU put on personal safety?
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  2. John C.

    John C. Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Messages:
    7,120
    Occupation:
    Machinery & Equipment Appraiser
    Location:
    Northwest
    Recently purchased my first hearing aid for one ear. Found out quite a bit of info from the audiologist that fitted the device which also changed a lot what I thought I knew about hearing. First item was that I had a hearing loss in only one ear. I had been told for years by those traveling salesman types in the trailers that this was caused by my occupation and the loud environment. In my first appointment with the expert, she shut down that piece of bad information immediately. Loud environments cause similar loss of hearing in both ears so my issue was one called atypical. That required a trip to the ear, nose and throat doctor to determine whether or not the problem was caused by something far more serious. Cancers, brain tumors and damage to the inner ears have to be eliminated as a cause before the audiologist can fit you. If you have a loss in only one ear, you need to get it checked out right away.

    Once that was cleared up it was back to the audiologist for fitting and design of the aid that I really needed. Another issue you don't get told about is clarity. Hearing aids can bump up the level of sound but they can't separate those frequencies that are close. The expert reads a bunch of pairs of similar sounding words to you while you are in the booth and you have to repeat back what you heard. In my case the expert said the aid might not help because of the type of loss I had. The other loss for me was direction of the sound. I was warned that now that my ears would be relatively equal in what I could hear, I would have trouble determining where sounds were coming from. That part came true in spades as now when a backup alarm sounds, it happens in my head. Until I see something moving, I have no idea of where the sound is coming from.

    The audiologist didn't have any problems with the foam aids or any other kinds of protection as long as they reduced the types of sound that damage hearing. She said she could custom build any kind of ear plug I wished but they would cost. I've never had a problem with the foam units but the ear muffs rubbed and the head band would feel like it was sinking into my head after a couple of hours. I also had a hard time swinging a big hammer on track pins with the muffs on.

    I take the aid out when I'm in a working environment now and use the plugs pretty regular. The point of all this is that it cost me a bunch of money to be able to understand normal conversations again and probably nothing will ever stop the constant ringing. There are many different types of hearing protection and your employer doesn't care about your loss of hearing until you file an insurance claim. By that time what you have lost will never come back anyway.

    Your health is your responsibility and no one else's.
     
  3. SeaMac

    SeaMac Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2012
    Messages:
    549
    Occupation:
    Semi-Retired Electrical, General and Engineering C
    Location:
    26.83307 -80.104484
    Hi John,

    I'm happy to hear that you've found a solution for your own hearing issues. I have been thoroughly tested to rule out any serious issues other than simple genetics and prolonged exposure to loud noise without any protection at all. Sooner than rather than later I will have to entertain the idea of a hearing aid although I am hopeful of some recent advances in medical science that just might offer some alternatives.
     
  4. SeaMac

    SeaMac Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2012
    Messages:
    549
    Occupation:
    Semi-Retired Electrical, General and Engineering C
    Location:
    26.83307 -80.104484
    There doesn't seem to be much action with this thread, I wonder if you can't hear how important safety is in general and hearing protection in particular. Don't mislead yourself to believe that your employers care more about your safety than you should.
     
  5. Dozerboy

    Dozerboy Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2006
    Messages:
    2,205
    Occupation:
    Operator
    Location:
    TX
    I always wear ear plugs on open cab equipment. The foam ones work ok I don't like the muffs my ear does get raw though with the plugs now days. I would strongly advise you not to take them out and then put them back in with dirty hands. You will get an ear infection.

    I might look into the ones you posted. They only have a NRR of 26dB though as appose to the Molex pure fit I wear having a NRR of 32dB. Thats 6dB and every 3dB is cutting the noise level in 1/2. Some of the places I work we have to wear plugs and muffs.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
  6. SeaMac

    SeaMac Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2012
    Messages:
    549
    Occupation:
    Semi-Retired Electrical, General and Engineering C
    Location:
    26.83307 -80.104484
    So long as you understand how important ear protection is - which you seem to have a better grasp than most - and you use it, that's what is important. Thanks for the reply.
     
  7. Tinkerer

    Tinkerer Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    4,302
    Location:
    On A Riverbank in IL. USA
    I still use 3M brand earmuffs. When they are new the clamping force of the headband was terribly uncomfortable. To fix that I heated the headband (in a dozer engine exhaust)to the point where they could be bent to fit comfortably. I also found that they were ineffective if I allowed my hair to get too long. Also the ear pieces of eyeglasses have to be above the muff. If either situation was present they were almost worthless. When the foam seals became stiff from age I would buy a new pair of earmuffs. One other thing that could be a real pain is the button that is on top of all the caps I ever wore. That is where all the stitching joins together. I remove them from any cap I wear with earmuffs. I have worn foam earplugs but never cared for them. Although I sometimes wore them with the earmuffs, it was unbelievably quiet. But then I couldn't listen to my radio because of the earplugs.
     
  8. SeaMac

    SeaMac Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2012
    Messages:
    549
    Occupation:
    Semi-Retired Electrical, General and Engineering C
    Location:
    26.83307 -80.104484
    Hey Tinkerer,

    Oh, I don't like them earmuffs, if I have to wear them due to excessively loud surroundings I will but if there's an alternative I'm all over it like white on rice. I have however used the EarPro's with earmuffs once and it was akin to sensory deprivation, nope, not gonna do that again either.