Even the tolerable noise can cause stress and harm your peace of mind. You start a normal conversation; you are causing noise for others. So, people should not be talking? That’s something beyond our control, but we can take measures to protect ourselves.
Some people prefer earmuffs as ear protection devices; some prefer earplugs to protect themselves from any noise level that can be damaging to the ears. But what’s all the fuss about double hearing protection?
Well, it is exactly what you can imagine. When you must use both the earplug and an earmuff over the earplug, it is considered as the double hearing protection. Or you may hear about it as the dual hearing protection.
When Is Double Hearing Protection Required?
Anywhere when the noise level exceeds 105 dB, you need dual protection. You go to an indoor shooting range; you will be exposed to such noise levels. Some occupations like working for the mining companies also require such level of hearing protection.
As a normal person with no technical knowledge; how do you know whether the noise is exceeding 105 dB? It’s a little bit tricky. So I would recommend you pay attention to where I mention these sources of noises.
One easy way to know for sure is that 105 dB level of noise is something you’re your table saw generates. Whenever you go to any public places, sports events, traffics, concerts, etc. you face that level of noise. I just mentioned that just to give you an idea.
For normal conversation, there is a noise level of almost 60 dB which is not damaging for your ears. Though I admit, it could be a little irritating for some people like me.
You set the volume level of your car; the noise level will go as high as 100 dB. This is the level where you should seriously think about double hearing protection.
There are no OSHA requirements for double hearing protection but the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MHSA) specifically has made it mandatory. We can use the MHSA guidelines as a reference everywhere where the noise level is normally above the 105 dB threshold.
If you own or plan to run a shooting range or any business where your employees may expose to such noises, you can comply with the MHSA guidelines voluntarily as a part of your compliance for the occupational safety hazards.
Why should you implement it voluntarily in your business?
The first reason is they are your employees and the success of your business largely depends on the peaceful mind and sound health of them. Secondly, most employees (sometimes, me too) can’t wear single hearing protection properly. For example, a lot of people wear the earplug wrong way.
To overcome the problem of single hearing protection, you can implement dual protection instead.
Effectiveness of Double Hearing Protection
But how much the double hearing protection is effective? Will it cancel the entire noise if you wear an earmuff over the earplug?
It’s so normal that you may have so many questions. Let me break it down the easiest way possible. The earplug and an earmuff can reduce the noise level from 4 to 8 decibels in a combine. It does not seem much, right?
This small improvement of 4 to 8 decibels means up to 85% reduction in the dangerous noise level. No matter whether you are in a shooting range or you work in a noise manufacturing factory, an 85% noise reduction is a significant improvement for the worker’s safety concern.
All the noise-related damage for you or for your employees will reduce dramatically. You will still hear some noise even wearing dual hearing protection. Some noise will still travel to your eardrum through the skull and bone conduction.
You need to be aware of some facts though. If you need to listen to the surrounding ambient voices of your co-workers or instructors at the shooting range, you need to choose both the earplug and earmuff carefully.
The problem of having dual hearing protection is that you can’t also hear any conversation about your surrounding people. If your co-worker talks to you in a normal voice, you won’t hear them.
So avoid wearing passive or non-electrical hearing protection if you need to hear the ambient voices. It’s the electrical mechanism that clarifies and increase the voices. So, the choice is really yours. If you don’t need to hear people talking at all, you can ignore whether it is an electrical one or not.
We talk about double hearing protection when the situation is really worse and there is a real chance you may lose your hearing. It’s way better to use the double hearing protection instead of the single one when you are not sure what’s to wear.