How do I know if my
Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs) are working properly?
The Tug Test-
the fitter ( or wearer) can very gently tug back and forth on the
handle of the plug. If there is resistance and if the employee feels a
sensation of gentle suction on the eardrum, then the earplug has
probably achieved a seal. In contrast, if the plug pulls out easily, an
adequate seal was not achieved.
The Hum Test-
After fitting just one earplug, hum or say "ah". If one ear is
properly sealed, the the sound of the user's voice will seem louder in
the sealed ear. If the wearer does not get this sensation, then the ear
canal is probably not adequately sealed. Sealing both canals at the same
time will cause the voice to be perceived equally in both ears, or in
the center of the head.
The Loudness Test-
While in a noisy environment with plugs inserted in both ears, cup both
hands over the ears. If there is a perceptible difference in the
noise level, the HPDs are not properly fitted. The HPDs should be
blocking enough noise that placing the hands over the ears should not
make a significant difference. Also, the noise level should markedly
increase as the user breaks the seal of each earplug or raises the cup
of an earmuff.
Tips for Wearing Earmuffs:
The headband should
extend or retract enough to position the earmuff cups over the pinnas
The entire outer ear should
fit comfortably inside the earmuff.
The cup's cushion
should seal against the head all the way around the ear. Are there
excessive gaps caused by bone structure, bulky eyeglass temples or
facial hair? If gaps are present, earmuffs can actually increase the
level of noise reaching the eardrum.
Although some expandable foam earplugs
come close, there is no one-size-fits all HPD. Each person must be
individually evaluated to determine the best match of HPD for their
environment, noise exposure, anatomy and hearing ability.
The best HPD is
the one that gets used... comfort is the key!