85 decibels. That’s the noise intensity at which repetitive exposure can trigger significant hearing damage.
100 decibels. that is the noise degree reached by a rock concert, which is not-so-good news for performers or concert goers.
It’s also a portion of a greater problem: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), around 30 million people in the U.S. are exposed to damaging sound volumes, representing one of the leading work-related risks over the preceding 25 years.
And musicians aren’t the only ones at risk; here are some of the decibel levels associated with typical work related activities: a power saw can reach 110 decibels, a newspaper press 97, a chain saw 120, a sporting event 105, and a aircraft takeoff 150. music players, production line workers, construction workers, airport personnel, emergency staff, plumbers, and craftsmen are all at risk of developing major 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 perils of sound. Twigg worked on analyzing and correcting police car sirens — which achieve between 106 to 118 decibels — for more than 30 years.
After retiring, Twigg started to suffer intense tinnitus in addition to substantial hearing loss that called for the usage of hearing aids. Having failed to adopt the appropriate steps that would mitigate the sound levels, Twigg’s employer was found accountable in court, losing a case in which Twigg would attain 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 occupational hearing loss documented.
How to protect your ears at work
So here’s the problem: the world requires music players, contractors, and emergency and construction staff, but you can’t really make power saws and police sirens any quieter.
The answer? minimize the level of sound that enters your ear. Easy, right? Well…not so fast.
You could just simply travel to the neighborhood store and pick up some disposable foam ear plugs, but as it turns out, there is a much more advantageous alternative.
The ideal alternative requires the use of custom-fit ear plugs, often times referred to as musicians plugs, that your hearing specialist can customize specifically to you, your job, and your preferences.
4 reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are superior than the off-the-shelf foam variety
Here are four reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are superior to foam ear plugs.
1. Preservation of sound quality
Conventional foam ear plugs muffle speech and music. By limiting sound primarily in the high frequency range, rather than in the mid-to-low frequency range, music and voices appear to be unnatural and unclear. Foam ear plugs also lessen sound by 30-40 decibels, which is not needed for the deterrence of hearing damage.
Custom-fit ear plugs will decrease sound more evenly across frequencies while decreasing sound volume by a lower decibel level, thereby conserving the natural character of speech and music.
2. avoidance of the “Occlusion Effect”
With foam ear plugs, the wearer will experience a hollow or boomy sound in their speech when talking, singing, or playing an instrument. This frustrating sound is known as the “occlusion effect.”
Custom-fit ear plugs are shaped to the ear, forming a deep seal that helps prevent this distracting sound.
3. cost & convenience
Custom ear plugs can last up to four years, almost always at a cost of well under $100.
Let’s do some math 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 certainly save money in the long run and will avert all of those trips to the store. No one looks forward to shopping for ear plugs, so while the initial visit to the audiologist seems like a burden, in the long run you will also save time.
4. Protecting the environment
Disposable ear plugs create a lot of waste:
5 days per week X 52 weeks per year = 260 pairs of foam ear plugs tossed out each year.
Schedule an appointment and protect your ears
The benefits 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 attend noisy concerts or sporting events, schedule an consultation with a hearing expert today. Custom-fit ear plugs will protect your ears, and unlike the disposable foam varieties, will also maintain the high quality of sound.