When should I wear ear protection?

According to the American Academy of Audiology, approximately 30 million workers are exposed to hazardous levels of noise on the job. 9 million more are at risk for hearing loss from agents such as solvents and metals. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) results from damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. These cells are important in converting the sound that we hear into electrical signals our brain receives. If these cells are damaged, they cannot grow back or regenerate. It is very important to take control of your ears in a noisy environment because noise-induced hearing loss in preventable. This applies even when you mow the yard, weed-whack, edge, or use your skill saw.

Wear hearing protection such as ear plugs and earmuffs when being exposed to levels of noise over 85 decibels (dB) for extended periods of time.

Below is a quick reference for levels of noise:

  • 60 dB — Normal conversations or dishwashers
  • 70 dB – Noisy restaurant
  • 80 dB — Alarm clocks
  • 90 dB — Hair dryers, blenders, vacuum cleaners, and lawnmowers
  • 100 dB — MP3 players at full volume, motorcycle
  • 110 dB — Concerts, car racing, and sporting events, chainsaw
  • 120 dB — Pneumatic riveter
  • 130 dB — Ambulances and fire engine sirens
  • 140 dB — Gun shots, fireworks, jet planes at takeoff and custom car stereos at full volume

When in doubt, wear your ear protection. When buying hearing protection, look for the NRR rating to know the approximate dB reduction the ear protection provides.

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