Personal Protective Equipment

PPE noise protection

I once wrote about your obligations under the Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Regulations (NIHL) in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) in my article 'If you're over the legal noise rating limit then read this now!'.

In it, I mentioned the rules you must follow to make sure you don't end up with COID claims and penalties. I also promised you some great tips for hearing protectors in the workplace.

So, as promised, here they are!

But first...

What are hearing protectors and what types are there?

You need hearing protectors when a person's hearing is exposed to noise levels that exceed a certain level and time. In our case, hearing protectors are needed if the noise level is at or above the noise rating limit of 85 decibels (dB) in an eight hour working day.

Some examples are:

  • Earmuffs: These look like wireless headphones. The part that fits over the ear is often filled with fluid, foam, or both to make the earmuffs fit comfortably and closely.
  • Earplugs: Earplugs are soft foam or harder plastic inserts that fit directly into the ear canal. They are cheaper than earmuffs, and come in both disposable and reusable types.
  • Expandable foam earplugs: are designed to be rolled into a thin cylinder that is inserted about halfway into the ear canal. Once inserted, the earplug reshapes itself to fill the canal snugly.
  • Pre-molded earplugs: These are made from plastic, rubber or silicone. These plugs are tapered, like an ice cream cone. If washed between uses and cared for properly, pre-molded earplugs can be used repeatedly.

6 Tips for PPE

I've scoured the Health and Safety Advisor and found some important PPE tips for you:

Buy the necessary hearing protective equipment and issue it free-of-charge to all your affected employees.

Don't allow any employee to enter a noise zone if they're not wearing protective hearing equipment, such as earplugs or earmuffs.

Train your employees on how to use PPE, why they must use it and what'll happen if they don't use it.

Make sure they understand how to insert their earplugs correctly.

Don't reuse earplugs unless they've been properly decontaminated and sterilised.

Always store earplugs in separate containers or storage facilities when you're not using them.

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