FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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 (outer ears).

   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!