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Lengthy exposure to high levels of noise can be devastating to your hearing.
That’s why if you work in an industry where you experience high levels of noise on a regular basis or you just do a lot of DIY at home, you should have good hearing protection.
Many people prefer ear plugs to ear defenders for their lower profile and weight. A good pair of ear plugs should offer be comfortable, reusable, and reduce the volume of sounds to protect your hearing.
Some ear plugs feature a filter that only reduces the volume of loud noises, allowing safe noises such as conversation and ambient sounds through. This type of ear plug is often used by firearms enthusiasts, but can be very useful in workplaces with only intermittent loud noises and where face-to-face communication is necessary.
Anyway, for those of you looking for hearing protection for your workplace or simply for DIY at home, we’ve rounded up some of the best industrial ear plugs on the market.
3M E-A-R Classic Ear Plugs
3M are well-trusted for their hearing protection products and for good reason. If you want hearing protection in a convenient, low-profile and easily transportable form then 3M have you covered with these simple yet advanced polymer ear plugs.
These cost-effective ear plugs are made from advanced energy-absorbing polymer foam, allowing for excellent noise reduction as well as comfort. Thanks to their clever material, they offer a SNR (Single Number Rating) of 28 dB. Specifically, they’re rated for 30 dB of noise reduction on high frequency noise, 24 dB for mid frequency, and 22 dB for low frequency.
For longevity and reusability, these ear plugs are moisture resistant. This means that you can clean them and reuse them. 3M recommend that they are only cleaned three times before being replaced though they may suitable for longer in environments where the noise level is lower.
This longevity makes them a very economical option. If you find yourself going through ear plugs very quickly due to the nature of your job, the reusability of these ear plugs is very handy. Their packaging is designed to be very easy to transport as well, meaning that you can easily carry a few extra pairs on you at all times in case you need them.
For a comfortable fit, these ear plugs are made of a soft and energy-absorbent polymer foam. The procedure for inserting them is the same as most other ear plugs: simply roll them between your fingers into a thin cylinder, then insert them into your ears. The foam expands back and provides a comfortable and effective seal.
Many users of these ear plugs use them as a sleep aid, so they should be more than comfortable enough for all-day use in the workplace.
Alpine WorkSafe Ear Plugs
From Alpine, we have these clever WorkSafe ear plugs. Unlike many other ear plugs on the market, they make use of a clever filter that blocks out the dangerous loud noises whilst still letting conversation and other ambient noises through. This is critical in environments where being able to communicate face-to-face or simply hear alarms is important.
A major perk of this design of ear plug is that they’re not airtight. This makes them a lot more comfortable to wear as it eliminates the uncomfortable feeling of having your ears completely plugged.
In addition to being air permeable, these ear plugs also use a clever system that molds them to the shape of your ear once inserted using body heat. The soft material they’re made from easily molds to the inside of your ear, helping to offer a fit that’s both comfortable and secure.
Due to their design, they don’t offer quite the same level of noise reduction as a standard ear plug design would. The SNR of these ear plugs is 23, which is far lower than you will want for working around extremely loud machinery for extended periods of time. However, for low-moderate noise level environments, the lower NRR is worth the extra ability to hear ambient sounds and communication.
These ear plugs are a bit pricier than most standard ear plugs. However, they’re designed to be completely reusable. Once purchased, they should have a far longer lifespan than any single pair of conventional foam ear plugs would.
If you’re only using them to help protect your hearing when performing noisy tasks at home such as lawn-mowing, then their lifespan will be far greater. The included carry case helps to keep them safe during transport or storage, as well as helping to prevent them from getting lost.
All-in-all, they’re a great option for low-medium noise level environments. The ability to hear safe noises such as conversation is extremely useful, though it does come at the cost of a lower NRR. Choose a more conventional style of ear plug if you’re working around extremely loud machinery for long periods.
Hearos Xtreme Protection Series Ear Plugs
These Xtreme Protection Series Ear Plugs from Hearos are another well-trusted product. They’re designed for heavy-duty work, with a staggering NRR of 33 dB. This is a very high noise reduction rating, so they’re more than ideal for noise at home or at work. This is achieved through their clever design, which uses soft polymer foam with a smooth skin that prevents irritation inside the ear.
Despite their heavy-duty nature, these ear plugs are remarkably comfortable and soft. They are easily rolled down for insertion, offering a very comfortable fit once inserted into your ear.
The smooth skin on the outside of the ear plugs helps to make these ear plugs comfortable, even when worn for long durations of time. The soft foam helps to prevent that uncomfortable feeling of pressure on the inside of your ear once the ear plugs have expanded.
Like the 3M ear plugs, they are reusable. You will want to dispose of them once they start accumulating dirt, but they can be washed and reused. Each pair should last about a week, though your mileage may vary depending on the environment they are used in.
Due to their slightly more advanced nature, these ear plugs are at a slightly higher price point compared to many other conventional foam ear plugs. However, they offer a greater NRR than many ear plugs on the market, which is definitely worth paying extra for if you often find yourself in environments with a very high noise level.
Overall, if you need some ear plugs with a high NRR, then these are worth taking a look at. They’re comfortable as well as effective, making them ideal for a wide range of tasks. The only real downside to them is that they’re less cost-effective than many other foam ear plugs.
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