Hearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
Hearing PPE is the last and the least effective control in the hierarchy and should only be used to manage any risk that is leftover after all higher-level controls have been implemented.
Based on the workplace noise exposure levels and the target in-ear noise exposure level, the workplace assessment will determine what level of hearing protection will correctly reduce (attenuate) the noise intensity received in a worker’s ear to the required 80dB(A) in-ear noise exposure level.
All hearing PPE should be:
- tested and approved in accordance with Australian Standard AS/NZS 1270:2002: Acoustics – Hearing protectors. Test results are found on the packaging of the hearing protector
- selected and maintained in accordance with AS/NZS 1269.3:2005 Occupational noise management – hearing protector program
When selecting personal hearing protection, you should consider:
- the worker
- the level of workplace noise
- the target in-ear noise exposure level
- the degree of attenuation required
- the comfort, weight and clamping force of the hearing PPE
- the suitability of the hearing PPE for both the worker and the environment
- its compatibility with spectacles and other protective equipment used by the worker, like hard hats, respirators and eye protection
Always involve your workers in the selection process and offer a reasonable choice from a range of types. Where necessary, obtain professional advice when selecting.
Other considerations for hearing protection are:
- Do not provide hearing PPE that under-protects or over-protects a worker’s hearing
- Workers must always wear hearing PPE whenever they are exposed to hazardous noise
- Never use audio headphones as a substitute for hearing PPE
- Hearing PPE must be regularly inspected and maintained
- Workers must be trained in the proper use, fit, care and maintenance of personal hearing protectors
Read hearing personal protective equipment for more detailed information when considering the correct level of hearing protection.