When Do You Need Hearing Protection?

man cutting wood wearing over-the-head ear protection

You will understand the need to protect your hearing, but the question is this: When do you need to wear hearing protection? Not every sound will damage your ear, but prolonged exposure to particularly loud noises will. Sudden exposure to one very loud sound, such as a firecracker, can also cause damage to your hearing. 

To understand more, we need to talk about decibels. This is how sound is measured. Normal conversation without any raised voices is about 60dB, and a hushed whisper is around 30dB. At these decibels, you have little to worry about. However, problems can start to occur when the noise is above 70dB. Prolonged exposure to such noise can cause hearing damage, and if the noise you hear is 120dB or above, you may experience immediate damage to your ears.

Of course, it can be difficult to assess how loud certain noises are, although your hearing health professional might recommend apps for your smartphone to alert you to dangerous sound levels. Still, it’s always best to take precautions, and for this reason, you should wear hearing protection when you think your hearing may be at risk.

Situations when you might need hearing protection include:

When you are doing chores at home

Vacuum cleaners generally have a noise output of between 70-80dB, so you might decide to wear hearing protection if your vacuum cleaner borders on the noisier side. Your lawnmower can be as loud as 90-100dB, so you should definitely consider hearing protection if you regularly mow your lawn. Leaf blowers can also be problematic as the noise output can be between 80-85dB, so if you’re outside for a prolonged period tidying up your garden, you should wear protection. You should also wear hearing protection if you use any kind of power tools, so whether you’re renovating your home or fixing the shed, use some form of hearing protection when you’re working. 

When you’re at a concert or watching a loud movie

The sound levels at a concert can be over 100dB, so foam or custom earplugs are advised to reduce the noise level when you’re at the event. The same applies when you’re watching a movie, be that at the cinema or when you’re using your sound system at home. Intense action scenes can potentially have sound levels of 100 decibels or more, so wear earplugs at the venue and do the sensible thing by turning down your sound system at home. 

When you’re at work

Not every job will require hearing protection, of course, but if you are in a factory or other industrial environment, your employer will have already recommended earplugs or ear defenders to you. Follow the guidelines given when you are around machinery or using power tools, and only remove your hearing protection when you have returned to a quiet area. 

These are just a few of the situations when you will need hearing protection, but there are others. If you’re a keen swimmer, it is advisable to wear foam earplugs to prevent water and foreign objects from getting into your ear. And when you’re outside, there might be occasions when hearing protection is advised, such as when you’re surrounded by a lot of traffic noise or when there is road work. By carrying protection with you, you will have the opportunity to protect your ears when needed. 

For more advice on hearing protection, speak to a hearing health professional today.