Ear Muffs vs Ear Plugs: Which is better?
Photo Courtesy of Patheos
Noise. Noise is all around us. We hear it when we get up. We hear it when we drive to work. We hear it all day and then we hear it until we go to bed. For those who work indoors or work in an office, it’s okay to have some noise. But for those at a job site, noise can be dangerous and can affect a worker’s hearing if protective measures aren’t used. Many realize this and use ear protection.
The only problem is some people don’t know which ones to use. Do you use earmuffs or earplugs? Comfort vs convenience? Is one better than the other? Which provides better protection? The staff here at Toolbarn.com have compiled some answers to help you make a decision.
Earplugs are made to go directly into your ear canal and provide a seal to muffle sounds to your ear drums. There are several different types of earplugs you can choose from. The first is a moldable foam earplug. These are the most common and least expensive option. They also provide a good seal around your ear and expand after they are inserted. They are usually only designed to be worn once and thrown away.
Graphic Courtesy of Hear Forever
Pre-molded earplugs are another option. They are flexible, pre-fitted earplugs designed to directly fit into your ears. They are a more expensive option, but they can be reused again when they’re washed. They also last longer. They provide the same seal foam earplugs do, but do increase in comfort. You also can create custom made earplugs if you want as well.
Finally, you have semi-insert earplugs which consist of two earplugs held over the ends of the ear canal by a metal or plastic band. While they’re easier to put on, they also don’t provide the same level of hearing protection other earplugs do.
Ear muffs create a seal around the outside of the ear to prevent noise and other sounds from reaching the inner ear. They provide a pressure fit and are held in place by a metal or plastic band. There are two types of earmuffs…passive and electronic.
The passive earmuffs use acoustic foam inside the cups to prevent sound from reaching the inner ears. Electronic earmuffs use circuits to amplify or turn down certain sounds.
Positives vs Negatives
Properly fitted earplugs provide better hearing protection or blocking than earmuffs because it has a better seal to the inner ear. The earplugs actually seal an area called the pinna (outer projecting ear) better than the muffs do, but a lot of people don’t properly insert their earplugs…preventing optimal protection. Ear plugs are usually better for low frequency noise.
While earplugs are nice, earmuffs are useful as well. Earmuffs provide more consistent protection because it can fit almost anybody and still protect against a lot of noise exposure. For overall use and high frequency noises, earmuffs provide better protection.
If you want maximum protection, you can wear earplugs with earmuffs. The downside is that it also prevents so much hearing…it could isolate you on a job site. Keep in mind, the noise protection isn’t doubled, but it does increase. Good rule of thumb: some hearing is needed so other workers can communicate with you in case an issue arises.
Photo Courtesy of Generation Deaf
According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association, most workers choose earplugs over earmuffs. Earplugs are lighter, less bulky, less intrusive and less expensive. They’re also a lot more comfortable in hot or humid environments. Also, people who have thick facial hair or wear thick-rimmed glasses find earplugs a lot more comfortable to them than ear muffs.
On the flip side, many people prefer ear muffs to earplugs because of they are easier to wear and can easily fit on a person’s head. They’re also easier to remove compared to earplugs. Earmuffs can also protect ears in the winter time as well.
So, which one is the best? It depends on your situation. Ideally, you can’t go wrong with a combination of both. That way, if there is a problem with one…you can switch to the other.
Earplugs available here!
Earmuffs available here!