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Ask The Experts at Phase To!

Winter 2006

Dear Experts at Phase To,  I am required to wear hearing protection at work.  My employer provides two types of ear plugs, but I can’t seem to get a good fit with either.  What can I do?    Roy from Ohio

Dear Roy,

Great question.  Per 29 CFR 1910.95(i)(3), your employer should be providing you with a variety of suitable hearing protection device (HPD).  Dust, heat, cold and humidity can cause one type of HPD to be more suitable than another.  For example, ear plugs may be more comfortable than ear muffs in a hot, humid environment.  In addition, individual ear canals come in all shapes and sizes.  Fitting may be difficult for people with unusually shaped ear canals, and commonly-used insert protectors may be very uncomfortable for them.  In general, employers are advised to give employees a choice between at least one type of insert plug and one type of muff since individuals may be more comfortable with one type of protection than another.

In addition, the proper fit of your hearing protection should be addressed as part of your employer’s annually mandated training of hearing conservation program. 

Remember:  the best type of hearing protector for you is the one you’ll wear well and wear often.

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