CarKid1989 SuperDork
3/31/15 11:19 p.m.

I work in a machine shop. Its a loud environment. We have anywhere from 3 to 5 CNC machines going plus the cycling of the air compressor....its loud.

I need some, i need great hearing protection.

Currently using Peltor earmuffs. Ill check the decibel rating. They are ok. I feel i can do better.

I also use foam in the ear ear plugs. Those are quieter but wear em too long and my ear gets sore.

I want to keep my hearing intact. It scares me to lose it.

Whats my best option to protect my hearing? Not looking to spend a million but if a few hundred bucks is what it takes to protect me then ill do it.

Help me out guys...please

SkinnyG Dork
3/31/15 11:36 p.m.

I find the Peltor-style muffs, while effective, don't help removing the low low frequencies.

I use form-fitted ear plugs, and have done so for over 20 years now. The sealed ones are the best, but vented ones are probably healthier. I have a pair of each.

The foam Deci-Damps gave me headaches.

Toebra New Reader
4/1/15 1:34 a.m.

I wonder how well noise cancelling headphones would work in that sort of environment. I use the foam ones when I am driving on the freeway for more than 5 minutes with the top down, which is pretty much every time I drive on the freeway.

jmthunderbirdturbo HalfDork
4/1/15 3:23 a.m.

get a set fitted to your ear canal. most hearing health places can do this. after a week you will forget they are in there. every year or so you have a new set made. keep your plugs clean, and your ears cleaner, and you can have them last longer.

i have three sets, one with headphones built into them so i can protect my hearing, while slayer tries to destroy it :)


mazdeuce PowerDork
4/1/15 5:35 a.m.

I made a set of earplugs with this kit: Earplug Kit
They work very well alone and I don't notice them at all. If I combine them with muffs I can't hear anything. I'm actually going to make a second set soon as someone showed me that I can go a bit deeper in my ear for even better sound blocking.

pilotbraden SuperDork
4/1/15 11:07 a.m.

Plugs and muffs work well. 20 years ago I flew with a guy that wore earplugs and a headset, he still has good hearing.

patgizz PowerDork
4/1/15 11:11 a.m.

if i'm in a really loud environment i stack them. foam expanding plugs and muffs.

travellering Reader
4/1/15 11:21 a.m.

Similar deal here. On preposterously loud days I wear shooting range hearing protectors over my earbuds. Music and podcasts are clear at just two clicks of volume above zero.

Enggboy New Reader
4/1/15 11:27 a.m.

What is the actual measured dB of the area you are working? If it is loud enough your employer should be required to provide protection, even double in some cases. Talk to the person in charge of safety (or benefits) and see if they can spring for custom plugs. The custom plugs will better fit your ear and you won't notice them as there is no odd pressure points. On top of those, you could then wear some good muffs to cut the din even more.

When I have spent time in a plant both with and without hearing protection, it is amazing how much better you feel at the end of the day if you have used proper plugs/muffs.

In Canada where I have worked, the 8 hour exposure limit is 85 dB for no protection (lower if your shift is longer), between 86 and 105dB you need single layer protection (plugs OR muffs), and above 106 dB you need double (plugs AND muffs).

Good luck, protect your hearing. I am 32 and have had tinnitus for a long time (a dozen years or more). It sucks some days, and is annoying the rest of the time.

Hal SuperDork
4/1/15 5:45 p.m.

Get a fitted set of plugs made! I got mine made years ago at a gun show. I use them and a set of muffs at the range. The plugs by themselves work just fine for yard work.

iceracer PowerDork
4/1/15 6:01 p.m.

By all means wear hearing protection in a noisy environment.

I say this from experience. Back when I was in the AF hearing protection was unheard of.

Standing on the wing of a P-51 while a student ran up the engine is non good for the hearing. All of the other engines with open exhausts didn't help.

Later, race cars and hunting with a 12ga. were not helpful.

Hearing aids suck. Take my word for it.

TRoglodyte SuperDork
4/1/15 6:17 p.m.

I wear Peltor twin cup H 10 A. I find them the best for me.The machinery I Work around is extremely noisy. I can't stand to stick anything in my ears due to ear drainage. Lowes has the Peltors pretty cheap.

1988RedT2 PowerDork
4/1/15 6:35 p.m.


oldopelguy SuperDork
4/1/15 9:13 p.m.

I find the ribbed rubber/silicone ear plugs are considerably easier to wear for a long time than the expanding foam ones. They don't work as well, but under a set of muffs as a combo it's about as comfortable as you can get without custom made stuff.

There are a couple different firmness levels among the foam ones too, and you can trim a bit off of them with scissors too.

Gearheadotaku PowerDork
4/2/15 7:37 a.m.

Go for the best and most comfortable you can get. You can't fix hearing loss. See if the company will pay for it, or at least in part.

pinchvalve MegaDork
4/2/15 7:40 a.m.

I lost a good chuck of my hearing on the left side...avoid it.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
4/2/15 11:04 a.m.

I use plugs and muffs for anything over 22LR. I have a handgun capable of nailing golf balls at 100 yards that is so loud, plugs and muffs will still leave your ears hurting. I suspect bone conduction, and you can't stop that. Anyway, find some plugs that are comfortable enough to wear all day, and a good set of muffs. I wore muff type headphones 8-16 hours a day for a couple years, and quality really counts there too. I still have the set I used in 1978. Cord and plugs have been replaced a few times.

WonkoTheSane SuperDork
10/2/19 8:01 a.m.

In addition to all of the excellent suggestions, see if the company is amendable to moving the compressor to an out building.. 

Speaking as a past machinist, there's really no reason to hear your compressor in a machine shop..

pheller UltimaDork
10/2/19 11:46 a.m.

I notice a lot of folks suggesting plugs over muffs.

I like muffs because I feel like they are more secure. They aren't as comfortable for long stints of wear, but they are easy to take on and off. I also like that you can get bluetooth music and electronic sound dampening muffs. 

Any reason for one vs the other? 

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
10/2/19 11:57 a.m.

Muffs are good.  I use them when working in the shop as my first "go to." 


I just bought a set of noise cancelling muffs.  They had a "what's new" kinda thing mention in the NRA magazine, American Rifleman.


Not cheap at a bill, but really, really nice.  I haven't tried them out with a cannon yet, but with 22LR, it's strange.  You hear everything, amplified even, then nothing at all, then the echos of the shot as it rings down.  Also does blue tooth stuff.

LanEvo Dork
10/5/19 1:59 p.m.

Go to an audiologist and get a set of custom plugs made. If you have insurance, the visit should be covered.

The plugs themselves will be maybe $200 if you have to pay out-pf-pocket ... but a portion of that might get covered by your insurance/employer as it's an OHSA requirement to protect employees from noise:

SVreX MegaDork
10/5/19 2:15 p.m.

You need baseline audio metrics, and regular monitoring. THEN hearing protection.

This should not cost you anything. Employer pays. It’s the law. 

SVreX MegaDork
10/5/19 2:20 p.m.

BTW, you haven't mentioned this, but reading between the lines I’m pretty sure your employer is not compliant with OSHA regulations. 

If he was, they’d have already moved the compressor as a minimum, to control loss costs. 

In that environment, you should be very aware of regular (annual) testing for all staff, and trained in the proper methods and PPE. Since you are not, the employer is not in compliance. 

Ask him if you can help them get up to speed on these issues.

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