Exposure to high noise levels (more than 90 decibel) can cause hearing loss or impairment. It can create physical and psychological stress. There is no cure for noise-induced hearing loss, so the prevention of excessive noise exposure is the only way to avoid hearing damage.
Sound pressure levels are measured in Decibels (commonly abbreviated to dB) which is a logarithmic measure of sound pressure levels. It is a scale of ratio and not units of measurements.
OSHA identifies 90 decibels based on an eight-hour time weighted average (TWA) as the absolute “safe” level of noise exposure. 85 dB is considered as the action level.
Who Should Wear Hearing Protectors?
If you must work in an excessively noisy environment, you should wear protectors. You should also wear them when using power tools, noisy yard equipment, firearms, or riding a motorcycle or snowmobile.
SELECTING THE RIGHT EAR PROTECTION:
Hearing protection falls into two broad categories: earplugs and earmuffs. With regard to the particular needs of workers in music and entertainment, there is a greater variety of products within the earplugs category.
Many workers in music and entertainment, such as musicians, performers and sound engineers, need to hear sounds with as little distortion or colouration as possible, especially in the higher frequencies. This can cause problems when using personal hearing protection, as conventional hearing protectors tend to reduce higher frequencies more than lower frequencies. For example, a compressible foam plug that reduces sounds in the 125 Hz range by 25 dB may reduce sounds in the 4000 Hz range by almost 40 dB.
Fortunately, hearing protection technology has developed to the point where specialised products can reduce sound levels almost equally across a broad range of frequencies. This means that the user perceives the sound as being far more natural and positive than with ordinary earplugs. These products are usually called 'flat' or 'uniform' attenuation hearing protectors. They come in both earplug and earmuff types. These protectors have been found helpful where there is a particular need for verbal communication, such as for bar staff.
When there is no concern about sound quality, hearing protection can generally be both simple and inexpensive, and where the appearance of hearing protection is less important, there is a wider range of choice.