85 decibels. That’s the sound intensity at which repetitive exposure can result in significant hearing damage.
100 decibels. That’s the noise level reached by a rock show, which is not-so-good news for music players or concert goers.
It’s also a portion of a much bigger problem: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 30 million individuals in the U.S. are subjected to damaging noise levels, representing one of the biggest occupational risks over the recent 25 years.
And musicians aren’t the only ones at risk; here are some of the decibel volumes linked with ordinary work related activities: a power saw can reach 110 decibels, a newspaper press 97, a chain saw 120, a sporting event 105, and a jet takeoff 150. Musicians, factory workers, construction workers, airport employees, emergency staff, plumbers, and carpenters are all at risk of developing significant hearing loss and tinnitus.
Work-related hearing loss affects tens of thousands
Kevin Twigg of Stockport, England knows all too well about the work-related risks of sound. Twigg worked on analyzing and fixing law enforcement car sirens — which range between 106 to 118 decibels — for more than 30 years.
After retiring, Twigg started to experience intense tinnitus in addition to intense hearing loss that required the usage of hearing aids. Having failed to take the preventative methods that would alleviate the noise levels, Twigg’s employer was found accountable in court, losing a case in which Twigg would secure a large settlement.
This is a experience that is all too familiar: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 only there were 21,000 occurrences of work-related hearing loss reported.
How to protect your ears at work
So here’s the problem: the world needs music players, contractors, and emergency and construction workers, but you can’t really make power saws and law enforcement sirens any quieter.
The solution? decrease the intensity of sound that comes in through your ear. straightforward, right? Well…not so fast.
You could just travel to the local store and pick up some disposable foam ear plugs, but as it turns out, there is a much more suitable alternative.
The optimum solution requires the use of custom-fit ear plugs, often times referred to as musicians plugs, that your hearing practitioner can tailor 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 superior to foam ear plugs.
1. maintenance of sound quality
Regular foam ear plugs muffle speech and music. By limiting noise primarily 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 reduce sound by 30-40 decibels, which is excessive for the prevention of hearing injury.
Custom-fit ear plugs will minimize sound more symmetrically across frequencies while lessening sound volume by a lower decibel level, thereby preserving the organic quality of speech and music.
2. avoidance of the “Occlusion Effect”
With foam ear plugs, the wearer will hear a hollow or boomy sound in their speech when talking, singing, or playing an musical instrument. This annoying noise is known as the “occlusion effect.”
Custom-fit ear plugs are molded to the ear, forming a deep seal that prevents this distracting sound.
3. Price & convenience
Custom ear plugs can last up to four years, almost always at a price of well under $100.
Let’s do some calculations on the throw-away 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 money in the long run and will avert all of those journeys to the store. No one looks forward to buying ear plugs, so while the first visit to the audiologist seems like a pain, in the long run you will also save yourself time.
4. Protecting 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 each year.
Schedule a consultation and protect your ears
The benefits of custom-fit ear plugs speak for themselves.
If you work in a industry that exposes you to a high risk for hearing damage, or if you participate in loud live shows or sporting events, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist today. Custom-fit ear plugs will protect your ears, and unlike the disposable foam varieties, will also preserve the quality of sound.