“If I have an earplug in my ear it is protecting me, right?” Short answer – maybe, or maybe not. In some cases, a badly fitted earplug can make the problem of noise exposure even worse. Earplug selection and training to ensure correct fitting (every time an earplug is worn) is crucial to help the workers know that the earplugs they’re wearing are providing them optimal protection. Here are a few tips to help you select and fit the right earplug
How can I determine which earplugs are the best fit for my workers? Imagine sending a friend to the store to purchase shoes for you, with the following instructions: “Any size, any shape, any style…doesn’t really matter!”
Many people approach selection of an earplug with the same cavalier attitude. The prevailing assumption is that “anything in my ear will protect my hearing—it doesn’t really matter.”
In reality, ear canals come in different sizes and shapes, affecting both fit and protection levels, as well as comfort. A work site that offers only one size or style of earplug sabotages its own hearing conservation efforts. Why is variety so important? In one study of typical ear canal sizes across gender and populations, results showed that females typically have ear canals approximately 20% smaller than males, and those of Asian/African origins have significantly smaller ear canals than those of European origin as a population.1 Beyond these population averages, there are also significant individual differences in ear canal size.