Hearing Protection

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APPLICATION

When higher ranking noise control measures are unable to reduce the exposure to noise to or below the National Standard (www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au), employees should be supplied with, and be trained on, the wearing and maintenance of effective personal hearing protectors.

RISK ASSESSMENT

The risk of over-exposure of workers to noise in a workplace must be assessed by conducting a noise survey. The purpose of a survey is to identify all work areas and work practices likely to expose workers to noise above the national 8 hour day standard (presently 85dB(A)) and must include work hour calculations if work hours exceed 8. The survey must also explain and record noise dose and identify peak noises.
A noise survey should audit the effectiveness of any existing measures and include recommendations that direct employers to measures that will reduce noise. Employers are required to provide appropriate PPE and train employees in the use and maintenance of personal hearing protectors.

When selecting hearing protectors the following must be considered:

  • Weight and clamping force (for earmuffs) - refer to our quick reference guide at the end of the Hearing Protection Section of our Catalogue.
  • Suitability of protection for use and fit with other PPE such as helmets, spectacles, respirators etc.
  • The inherent problems of comfort and supervising compliance.
  • The interference of fit when wearing head clothing like hair nets, hoodies and beanies.

CLASSIFICATION TABLE

Hearing protectors are grouped into five classes that range from class 1 to class 5 based upon Australian Standards governed testing (Specified SLC 80, dB) as shown below:

SPECIFIED SLC80 FOR DETERMINATION OF CLASS
Class
Specified SLC80, dB(A)
Effective Noise Range
1 10 - 13 90dB(A)
2 14 - 17 95dB(A)
3 18 - 21 100dB(A)
4 22 - 25 105dB(A)
5 26 or greater 110dB(A)

SLC80 (Sound Level Conversion) is a single number rating commonly used in Australia and New Zealand to compare the acoustic performance of hearing protectors. The subscript ‘80’ indicates that in well-managed hearing protector programmes, the protection provided is expected to equal or exceed the SLC80 in 80% of protector-wearer noise spectrum combinations.

useful references

AS/NZS 1269.0:2005  Part 0  Occupational noise management - Overview and general requirements.
AS/NZS 1269.3:2005  Occupational noise management - hearing protector programme.

When it comes to protecting your workforce’s ears, you’ll never lose sight of the gold standard with SafetyQuip behind you. Find your closest SafetyQuip store at our Store Locator.

Safety Tips

  • Over-protection may cause wearers to remove hearing protection to communicate or miss warning sounds.
  • Safety spectacle side arms and certain hair styles may affect the air seal of an earmuff.
  • Replacement hygiene kits (ear cushions and foam inserts) will help maintain earmuff performance.
  • Using earplugs in addition to earmuffs may add up to 3 decibels to the earmuff rating.
  • Exposure to noise combined with certain chemicals absorbed into the blood stream will cause an ototoxic effect, accelerating noise induced hearing loss - wear protective gloves.
  • Define extensive noise areas with appropriate signage.
  • All workers should be trained in the correct use and maintenance of personal protective equipment.

SafetyQuip offers a full scope safety supply service for hearing protection including ear plugs, ear muffs, earplugs, ear protection, noise protection, ear bands, electronic ear muffs, passive earmuffs, electronic headsets and shooters ear muffs.