85 decibels. That’s the sound intensity at which recurring exposure can bring on significant hearing damage.
100 decibels. That’s the sound measure reached by a rock concert, which is not-so-good news for performers or show goers.
It’s also part of a much bigger problem: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), roughly 30 million people in the U.S. are subjected to damaging noise volumes, representing one of the biggest occupational threats over the previous 25 years.
And musicians aren’t the only ones at risk; here are some of the decibel levels linked with standard work related activities: a power saw can reach 110 decibels, a newspaper press 97, a chain saw 120, a sporting show 105, and a aircraft takeoff 150. Music players, manufacturing workers, construction workers, airport staff, emergency workers, plumbers, and craftsmen are all at risk of developing critical hearing loss and tinnitus.
Work-related hearing loss affects thousands
Kevin Twigg of Stockport, England knows all too well about the work-related dangers of sound. Twigg worked on diagnosing and repairing law enforcement car sirens — which achieve between 106 to 118 decibels — for more than 30 years.
After retirement, Twigg started to suffer severe tinnitus in addition to considerable hearing loss that obligated the usage of hearing aids. Having failed to take the safety steps that would decrease the noise levels, Twigg’s employer was found accountable in court, losing a case in which Twigg would attain a considerable settlement.
This is a story that is all too familiar: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 only there were 21,000 cases of occupational hearing loss reported.
How to protect your ears at work
So here’s the problem: the world needs music players, craftsmen, and emergency and construction workers, but you can’t really make power saws and law enforcement sirens any quieter.
The solution? Reduce the level of sound that makes its way into your ear. straightforward, right? Well…not so fast.
You could just simply travel to the nearby store and pick up some disposable foam ear plugs, but as it turns out, there is a much more favorable alternative.
The most effective alternative requires the use of custom-fit ear plugs, often referred to as musicians plugs, that your hearing specialist can customize specifically to you, your occupation, and your requirements.
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 far superior to foam ear plugs.
1. maintenance of sound quality
Common foam ear plugs muffle speech and music. By reducing sound largely in the high frequency range, rather than in the mid-to-low frequency range, music and voices sound unnatural and unclear. Foam ear plugs also minimize sound by 30-40 decibels, which is unnecessary for the deterrence of hearing damage.
Custom-fit ear plugs will lessen sound more uniformly across frequencies while reducing sound volume by a lower decibel level, thereby preserving the all natural character of speech and music.
2. Prevention of the “Occlusion Effect”
With foam ear plugs, the wearer will notice a hollowed out or boomy sound in their speech when speaking, singing, or playing an musical instrument. This irritating noise is referred as the “occlusion effect.”
Custom-fit ear plugs are shaped to the ear, creating a deep seal that helps prevent this distracting sound.
3. Price & convenience
Custom ear plugs can keep working up to four years, typically at a price tag of well under $100.
Let’s do some calculations 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 enjoys shopping for ear plugs, so while the initial visit to the audiologist seems like a pain, in the long run you will also save time.
4. Protecting the environment
Disposable ear plugs build up 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 protect your ears
The advantages of custom-fit ear plugs speak for themselves.
If you work in a profession that exposes you to a high risk for hearing damage, or if you participate in booming concerts or sporting events, schedule an consultation with a hearing practitioner today. Custom-fit ear plugs will protect your ears, and distinct from the disposable foam varieties, will also maintain the quality of sound.