2018 Olympics- be prepared and protected!

February 20, 2018

 2018 Olympics- be prepared and protected!

Well, it looks like the Olympics are in full swing ahead.  The 2018 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, more commonly known as PyeongChang 2018, is an international multi-sport event currently being held from 9 to 25 February 2018 in Pyeongchang County, South Korea, with the opening rounds for certain events held on the eve of the opening ceremony—8 February 2018.

Pyeongchang was elected as the host in July 2011, during the 123rd IOC Session in Durban, South Africa. It marks the first time South Korea has hosted the Winter Olympics, and the second Olympics in the country overall after the 1988 Summer Olympics in the nation’s capital, Seoul.

The games feature 102 events in fifteen sports, with the addition of “big air” snowboarding, mass start speed skating, mixed doubles curling, and mixed team alpine skiing to the Winter Olympic program. 2,952 athletes from 92 National Olympic Committees are expected to compete.

Protection Against Hearing Loss at the 2018 Olympics

With exposure to observing great athletes also puts spectators at risk of damaging their hearing from the noise in the stadiums. In previous Olympic games “officials have admitted that noise levels in the stadia have regularly been over 100 decibels, with the boxing arena hitting 113.7db during a fight involving Irish boxer Katie Taylor.” Exposure to loud noise above 85 decibels over time can cause permanent hearing damage and with the closing ceremony fast approaching, the decibel level is sure to be much higher.

The Olympic Committee and its advisors urge Games revelers to pack earplugs, which can protect your hearing by keeping loud noises out without shutting out other ambient noises.

“Action on Hearing Loss Audiologist Gemma Twitchen said: “With crowds going wild for Team GB, noise has been recorded at levels in excess of 100db, which is much louder than a jet engine taking off, in fact, it’s 10,000,000,000 times louder than the smallest sound your ears can hear!“A night in a noisy crowd could cause temporary tinnitus – ringing, whistling, humming or buzzing in your head or ears – or permanent hearing damage. This is not something you’d want to take home as an everlasting memory from the Games.

You wouldn’t think twice about standing close to a jet engine without hearing protection, so we’re urging people going to the closing ceremony or any of the events in the Olympics and Paralympics to take the very simple step of using earplugs.”


Athletes suffering from Hearing Loss

Amongst all these festivities and test of personal willpower and strength we always want to remember some of the challenges athletes have overcome and endured significant hearing loss challenges in the previous Olympics.

Adam Rippon, Figure Skating

Before his successful career as a figure skater, Adam Rippon had to overcome several health issues in his early years. He was born with an eye infection and 80 percent hearing loss, and he also suffered from a severe respiratory condition and burst appendix. Fortunately, surgery was able to restore most of his hearing, and he recovered from the other illnesses. Adam will be in competing in PyeongChang as one of three men on the U.S. figure skating team.

Amy Purdy, Snowboarding

About of bacterial meningitis at age 19 resulted in Amy Purdy’s legs being amputated below the knees and the removal of her kidneys and spleen. The disease also led to hearing loss. Despite these challenges, Amy has pursued her passions, including dancing, modeling, and snowboarding, for which she designed her own prosthetic leg. She won a bronze in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games and will be competing once again in the 2018 event.

Elena Yakovishina, Downhill Skiing

Another athlete born with hearing loss, Elena Yakovishina is a downhill skier from Russia who hasn’t let her disability keep her off the slopes. She wears hearing aids while she competes, which she says improve her balance and help her perform better by hearing the wind and the skis. Hearing aids also helped Elena hear the cheers of her home crowd when she competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Carlo Orlandi (Italy, Boxing)

Orlandi is said to be the first deaf athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. The boxer was a gold medalist in the 1928 Olympic Games. In 1929 he turned professional, and in the 1930s he held both the Italian and European lightweight titles. He was born a deaf-mute.

Tamika Catchings (USA, Basketball)

The 24-year-old WNBA star was born with a hearing loss and incredible athleticism. She has completed 15 seasons in the WNBA, and she has earned WBNA Finals MVP honors as well as the Reynolds Society Achievement Award. The world-famous Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston give this award annually to an individual who has overcome hearing, vision, or voice loss and who have distinguished themselves and provided inspiration to others.

Jeff Float (USA, Swimming)

Float was the first person to win the gold medals in both the Deaf World Games and the Olympic Games. In 1977 he won 10 gold medals at the 13th World Games for the Deaf in Romania. In 1984 he became an Olympic champion at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. And he was the first deaf Olympian to openly display the universal ILY (I love you) sign on the pedestal during his medal ceremony at the Olympic Games.The first deaf swimmer to win a gold medal, Float recalls to Sports Illustrated the moment that changed his life: “It was the first time I remember hearing distinctive cheers at a meet. I’ll never forget what 17,000 screaming people sound like. It was incredible.” At 13 months old, Float contracted viral meningitis and consequently lost his hearing. He’s 90 percent deaf in his right ear and 65 percent in his left. He now wears digital hearing aids.He learned to read lips, but he was teased by the other kids at school because of a lisp. He tells SI, “Kids would boost their self-esteem by putting me down. Swimming gave me the self-confidence I couldn’t find anywhere else. Besides, my name isn’t ‘Field’ or ‘Court.’ It’s ‘Float’ — I had to swim.”


Edmonton Motorcyle Show

January 12, 2018

Get Your Fix @ The Edmonton Motorcycle Show

When the snow starts flying, where can you go to get your fix of two-wheel, three-wheel and four-wheel action!

THE 2018 EDMONTON MOTORCYCLE SHOW – the ultimate get-together for riders and future riders.

See all the NEW 2018 motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and side-by-sides, all under one roof.  Meet tons of experts, check out the latest gear and apparel, and get all-revved up for your next adventure!


Whether you’re a hardcore rider or a recreational enthusiast, a curious fan or just tired of the cold winter weather, The 2018 Edmonton Motorcycle Show has got you covered!

Come See Custom Protect Ear and get fitted for dB Blockers today!




Plant Expo 2017

October 11, 2017

PLANT Expo Kitchener is today! 

We look forward to seeing you on October 11, 2017 at Bingeman’s for this one of a kind networking opportunity. Come see CPE at the Show and get Fitted for your dB Blockers today.

Plant Expo Kitchener


Please join us at 9:00am-10:00am for coffee as we open the show with Opening remarks from Dennis Darby, President & CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) and our Morning Keynote Speaker, Matt Rendall, CEO, from OTTO Motors.


Afternoon Keynote Speakers James Weir, Vice President of Sales from SYSPRO Canada and Kate Bagshaw, Senior Electricity Advisor, Bruce Power Direct will be speaking at noon. Lunch will be provided for those attending.

**Please note it will be a first come, first serve for the Keynote sessions. Please be sure to be on time for these sessions. **


To help you plan your day, we have provided the information below to outline some of the details you will need to know for the event.  Please take a few moments to review the following information carefully. 

**Watch for the Plant/DEX Expo signs directing you into the show!**

Schedule at a Glance:   

Wednesday October 11, 2017

8:00 am


Registration Opens
9:00 am Morning Keynote Speakers:

Opening remarks from Dennis Darby, President & CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) and our Morning Keynote Speakers, Matt Rendall, CEO, from OTTO Motors.

Coffee and light refreshments will be available.


10:00 am – 4:00 pm Tradeshow Hours


12:00 noon Afternoon Keynote Speakers:

James Weir, Vice President of Sales from SYSPRO Canada and Kate Bagshaw, Senior Electricity Advisor, Bruce Power Direct will be speaking at noon. Lunch will be provided for those attending.

On-Site prize draw:

Helly Hansen Workwear


3:45pm On-site prize draw:


Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition


4:00 pm Show closes




425 Bingemans Centre Drive

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

N2B 3X7

Tradeshow Room: Marchall Hall

Keynote Room: Heritage Room

Parking: There is ample FREE parking. 

See you at the show!

Wearing & Caring for your dB Blockers™

September 12, 2017

Wearing & Caring for your dB Blockers ™

So the wait is finally over. After being fitted for your new hearing protection – they have finally arrived! However, there are a few important things we wanted to remind you of.  Your dB Blockers will do most of the work when it comes to protecting your ears from noise, but you will also need to care for them as well.

Break-In Period

Please note that there is a “break in” period for each custom earpiece. The first 10 times you wear them, apply a light coating of lubrication prior to inserting.

The dB Blocker™ Hearing Protector should only be worn for 2 hours the first day. This time may be increased by two hours each day for the following week. It is important to lubricate the earpiece with CPE lubricant for the first 10 times they are worn or after washing.

dB Blockers

Step-By-Step Instructions

Follow the step-by-step diagrams for a comfortable, secure fit. You may need to alternate between your new custom dB Blockers earpiece and your old ear plugs during this limited period until the fit is comfortable. During this time you are still receiving optimum noise protection

custom fit earplugs

Ears Change

You must refit your dB Blockers™ custom earpiece every five years or if your weight changes 10 pounds or Industrial Hearing lossmore.

DUE TO PRESSURE CHANGES DO NOT USE NON-VENTED dB Blockers™ WHEN FLYING OR SCUBA DIVING. We have models for this and since we have your fitting. Contact us to order.

For Removal

Gently break the seal by removing the helix (B) and rotating forward.

Personalized Hearing Protection for the Pulp and Paper Industry

July 25, 2017

Personalized Hearing Protection for the Pulp and Paper Industry

Working in the pulp and paper industry, workers are frequently reminded to wear hearing protection and safety glasses. Most manufacturing areas mandate their use, and failure to comply with these rules frequently brings stern warnings or reprimands. Fortunately, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for sight and sound has almost become second nature to most Paper and Pulp plants. However, there are still some plants that have not found a way to enhance a safe workplace by implementing a hearing conservation program. Specializing in personalized hearing protective, ProtectEar USA has helped many manufacturing companies overcome their performance limitations and safety concerns. We start by assessing the noise levels and working conditions each person faces. then we determine the best protectors for the individual and make appropriate recommendations for optimal productivity, protection, and comfort.

Workers Can Protect Their Hearing with Custom Ear Plugs

Do not wait to experience any of these symptoms before you protect your ears with hearing protection. ProtectEar dB Blockers™ custom fit earplugs are more comfortable and offer superior hearing protection to any disposable earplug. However, did you know that they are more cost effective as well?

You can reduce your hearing protection costs by 60% over five years when an entire facility is fit. dB Blockers™ are more comfortable because there is only one way for them to fit and they made for each individual. They also make it easy for workers to communicate with each other because of our proprietary tuned filter that allows users to hear better with the plugs in than if they take them out.

As a Hearing Protection Manufacturer, it is great to see specific sectors like Pulp & Paper Canada take a stock in Noise Induced Hearing Loss. 

Pulp & Paper

Four steps for reducing workplace noise


The most obvious impact is noise-induced hearing loss but stress, hypertension, poor sleep and mental health, and physical injury due to communications challenges can all be linked to noise exposure.One in five adults aged 19 to 79 already have mild hearing loss or more in at least one ear. Chances are, with time and continued exposure their hearing will worsen. Statistics like these have prompted the Ontario Ministry of Labour to launch an occupational noise initiative. From April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 inspectors will be looking at how — and how well — employers are protecting workers from noise.

A noise regulation (381/15) passed in July 2016 says employers must follow a “hierarchy of controls” to protect workers. Under this hierarchy, engineering controls and work practices come before personal protective equipment (PPE), such as earplugs and ear muffs. Engineering solutions are the better option because they control noise everywhere eliminating the reliance on workers to wear protection.

Pulp & Paper

Create your own noise prevention plan with these four steps.

  1. Determine if your workers are exposed to high levels of noise. Be sure to pinpoint the sources of noise and who’s going to be affected where.
  2. Conduct a risk assessment. You can do a rudimentary assessment just by walking around and listening. If you’re looking for preliminary numbers, rent a sound level meter. There are also apps available that can be used as screening tools. Smartphone apps must be used cautiously however and shouldn’t be relied on for complete accuracy. If an app provides a number that hovers around 85dB (the current occupational limit more than eight hours), call in an occupational hygienist to do a proper survey.
  3. Determine the best way to protect employees:• Start with engineering controls. Can you reduce noise at the source or along the path of transmission? Before implementing a control (such as enclosing a machine), check with an expert to ensure you’re not introducing new hazards.• Look at work practices. Could repairs make machines less noisy? Could you adjust schedules to reduce workers’ exposure time or duration, or increase distance from the source?• Consider PPE if other controls are not possible. Select PPE carefully though. Talk to employees about what kind of protection they’d prefer and which is most comfortable. Ensure that workers are trained on care and use, including proper fit, limitations, inspection and maintenance, and most importantly hygiene. Dirty ear plugs can lead to other health issues.

    4. Ensure your controls are working. Implement a surveillance program that includes audiometric testing to make sure people are using hearing protection correctly and not suffering hearing loss.

Hearing Loss Prevention Beyond the Workplace

July 10, 2017
Industrial Hearing loss

As a Hearing Protection Manufacturer, we as a company are always speaking about Hearing Loss Prevention in the workplace. However, there are also Best Practices for developing a culture of hearing conservation, both at work and at home.

Since OSHA had implemented detailed noise exposure regulations (29 CFR 1910.95), employers and safety professionals have monitored noise levels, posted warning signs, purchased earplugs and routinely tested employees’ hearing. Other activities consisted of training programs for new employees, putting up posters and selected groups to be a part of the product buying process.

Although these activities are conducted to prevent hearing loss, workers are still continuing to suffer noise-induced hearing loss at alarming rates. The cost of noise-induced hearing loss in the United States is now measured in billions (not millions) of dollars annually.

Hearing Loss Prevention plan

Setting up the actual Hearing Loss Prevention plan is easy; the difficult task is getting workers to buy in and engage in the program. In addition, loud noises are not just limited to the workplace. Noise-induced hearing loss can be just as prevalent off the job as on the job, and exposure outside the workplace is often a lot less noticeable.

Build Buy-in on the Hearing Loss Prevention Plan – Educate & Engage beyond the workplace

Beyond employee adherence to safety rules, there are ways to utilize other controls for reducing noise exposure that will impact the worker on and off the job.

Additionally, OSHA offers a list of administrative controls that managers can use to minimize the risk:

  • Operating noisy machines during shifts with the fewest employees exposed
  • Limiting the number of time employees can work near a noise source
  • Providing quiet areas for employees to get a break from the noise
  • Restricting worker presence to a suitable distance away from a noise source
  • Establishing a hearing conservation program (required at sites exceeding the PEL)
  • Hold informative workshops on the importance of Hearing Loss Prevention on and off the job.

Some of these suggestions may be more feasible at your work site than others, so take advantage of those that you can logistically implement. Encourage employee participation in this process as well, because they tend to have the greatest exposure to noise, and thus may have insights for improving hearing protection. Many incidents of hearing loss from occupational noise exposure are preventable, and because completely eliminating the noise at work is often not an option, companies must take every measure possible to minimize its effects.

To learn how a Proper Safety plan is executed please check out our previous post: A Proper Executed Safety Program



How much is a Noisy Workplace actually costing you?

April 25, 2017

Good communication is vital to running a safe and efficient worksite or workplace. But, how do you achieve that amid the noise and multifaceted demands of the average noisy workplace?

Construction sites, Manufacturing Plants, Food Assembly Lines and Shop Floors are typically characterized by loud equipment in constant motion and limited visibility. In this environment, a missed warning or misunderstood instruction can have costly—or even tragic—consequences.

Car Plant
Example: Workers wearing no hearing protection in a Chrysler car plant.

Cost of Noise

How do you know if your workplace is loud enough to require hearing protection. If you meet 2 out of 6 criteria below, then your company needs to re-evaluate their Hearing Conservation Plan.

  1. Your productivity is being seriously impacted.
  2. Your cost of goods are rising from mistakes.
  3. You’re spending at least $310/year for every employee in your hearing conservation program.
  4. Your Risk Management costs are rising
  5. Hearing protection alone is costing you $150/person/year
  6. Supervisors spending an extra 30 minutes a day trying to communicate in noise – @ $30.00/hour

If this is applicable to you, then most likely your incurring a extra cost of  $4,000/year. You do the Math!

What is the Cost of Noise

Industrial Hearing loss

All of this is the Cost of Noise. The Cost of Noise is hearing loss, productivity and risk management. 

The cost of noise saps productivity and adds expense to companies.  Reduce or control the cost of noise and profits will flow straight to the bottom line.  It is a competitive advantage and many companies have recognized it. If you and your company want to do something about the cost of noise, ask us about about dB Blockers.

What are dB Blockers™

dB Blockers and they’re the SMARTEST HEARING PROTECTION In the World.  Why smart? Inside each dB Blocker there is a little green filter, which filters out industrial noise and enhances speech. And it is also really a  communication device. You wear these to protect your hearing and they’ll let you hear people talking to you.

Thanks to recent advancements in technology through SMART (custom) hearing devices, and wireless communication headsets, the costs of communication, productivity and safety has decreased significantly.

 The benefits of dB Blockers™ 

  • clear and continuous communication during the performance of shared tasks
  • improved teamwork and increased mobilitydB-blocker-
  • the ability to provide verbal warnings in real time
  • fewer accidents and lower insurance costs
  • the ability for construction crews to get more done in less time

By adopting dB Blocker™ hearing devices an integral component of worksite communication, companies will not only enjoy a safer work environment, but also develop a more cohesive and productive crew.

dB Blocker™ Classic Intercanal (Vented). Learn More.
dB Blocker™ Classic Intercanal (Vented). Learn More.


Hearing Self-Test by Wayne Staab

April 19, 2017

Legalized OTC (over-the-counter) hearing aids are expected as a hearing-impaired consumer option. One of the arguments against this practice is that the potential purchaser has not had an audiogram from which to determine the type and degree of hearing levels to assist in the selection of the appropriate hearing aid, if such is to be recommended. However, serious discussion exists relative to the real value of a pure-tone audiogram for such selection, perhaps for the majority of individuals, especially based on the way pure-tone testing is currently conducted.  What then, might be the role of a hearing self-test?

Predicting Hearing Level Without an Audiogram?

Aside from having an audiogram made, is it possible to somewhat “predict” an individual’s hearing levels? One skilled in the art can most likely draw a reasonable facsimile of a person’s audiogram just by conversing with them. Advertisements by both traditional and audiologist hearing aid dispensers have used paper and pencil questionnaires for years to “estimate” hearing levels in promotional materials to encourage consumers to utilize their services for more in-depth evaluation. Learn More.


Self-Test of Hearing – Paper and Pencil

A number of years ago this author designed a paper and pencil self-test of hearing. The test, in the form of a short questionnaire, was designed to allow a consumer to evaluate his/her ability to hear in different circumstances, and that their answers would help them better appreciate and understand their hearing status. They could make their own decision as to whether they wanted to follow through more specifically on the results of the test with whatever hearing testing facility they wanted. What the test was intended to do was to inform them about what they could expect of their hearing, based on their responses.  Because the person knew that their answers were personal, and that no one else would see them, they were likely to answer the questions more honestly than those questionnaires that request their personal information in order to get the results.  The intent of the self-test is to provide a rapid, but reasonably accurate understanding of the person’s hearing status.

Figures 2 provides the questionnaire and Figure 3 provides the scoring information.  The degree of loss as identified from the scoring chart, is explained in the text following the two figures.


Staying Bluetooth Connected and dB Blocker™ Protected!

April 17, 2017

Custom Protect Ear is proud to announce that wireless Bluetooth Connectivity is now available with dB Blockers™.  Custom Protect Ear now integrates its’ flagship product, dB Blocker™ custom earpieces, with 2 Jabra Bluetooth products providing users a better communication experience while staying protected in noise. Introducing the Jabra Halo Bluetooth and the Jabra Mini Bluetooth.

HALO:Jabra Halo

The Jabra Halo Bluetooth is a light-weight headset which easily attaches to the dB Blocker™ custom comfort earpieces. The Halo is compatible with Bluetooth enabled phones and radios and can pair with up to 8 devices. The Jabra headset coupled with a dB Blocker™ filtered earpiece will enhance voice reception while keeping the wearer protected in loud environments.

The Jabra Halo Bluetooth and dB Blocker™ earpieces are designed for maximum comfort and convenience, wireless connectivity and protection from damaging noise exposure.

Jabra Halo Headset features:

  • Remains connected to two devices at the same time
  • Rain and water resistant
  • Wind-protected, noise cancelling microphone
  • Operates in temperatures of -10°C to 55°C / 15°F to 140°F
  • Call vibration alert, voice button, answer call, end call, reject call
  • voice dialing & last number redial capability, volume control,
  • voice guidance
  • dB Blocker™ Convertible Vented Earpieces are

compatible with the Jabra Halo Smart headset

  • Battery Life

2 hour Charge Time: 17 hour Talk Time: 22 day Standby


The Jabra Mini Bluetooth is a light weight Bluetooth unit supported Jabra Bluetoothby the dB Blocker™ custom comfort earpiece that can pair with up to 8 devices. The Jabra Mini is a smart device as it remains connected to two devices at the same time and has Voice dialing–activate the voice control on your mobile device with a press on the headset. The Jabra Mini and dB Blocker™ custom filtered earpieces bring “hands free” to a whole new level and all while still protecting your hearing.

Jabra Mini Bluetooth features:

  • Power Nap–battery saving mode
  • Battery and pairing status display
  • Operates in temperatures of -10°C to 55°C / 15°F to 140°F
  • Answer call, end call, Jabra status display™ displaying connection and battery status, voice guidance, multiuse™*
  • Battery Life

                    2 hour Charge Time: 9 hour Talk Time: 9 day Standby

These innovative products are available at Custom Protect Ear and ProtectEar USA. (Link to websites) The Jabra Bluetooth comes with a 1 Year manufacture warranty and the dB Blocker™ Custom Earpieces come with a 90 Day Fit Warranty & 3 Year Material Warranty.

About Custom Protect Ear

“The Smartest Hearing Protection in the World”  

For over four decades, Custom Protect Ear has been the leader in providing effective, verifiable, and noise level matched hearing protection at a cost lower than disposable ear plugs. Custom Protect Ear strives to meet and exceed the industry standards in hearing protection and communication by offering a comfortable, affordable and effective line of hearing protection and communication devices. Custom Protect Ear specializes in the manufacture of custom made hearing protectors.  Every dB Blocker™ is individually crafted for each unique ear based on a personal ear mold.


To learn more about dB Blocker™ custom earpieces, the Jabra Halo Bluetooth headset and Jabra Mini, please contact us at:

Laura Bennett
Director, Business Development
E. lbennett@protectear.com
TF. 1.800.520.0220 ext. 322
D. 604.635.3250

Hearing Conservation Program

March 30, 2017

NIHL & Hearing Conservation Program

A Hearing Conservation Program consisting of noise hazard identification, hearing protection, education, hearing testing and noise reduction, will reduce the potential of WSIB claims lasting decades.

Common side effects of hearing loss include:

  • Communication Problems
  • Social Isolation
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

Noise induced hearing loss

Noise induced hearing loss is a permanent hearing impairment resulting from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. One in 10 Americans has a hearing loss that affects his or her ability to understand normal speech. Excessive noise exposure is the most common cause of hearing loss.

“The National Institute of Health reports that about 15 percent of Americans aged 20 to 69 have high frequency hearing loss related to occupational or leisure activities.”

NIHL begins by impairing the ability to hear high pitch sounds such as beeps and whistles. It is these tones that break up words into syllables, without which, voices (particularly women’s and children’s) sound muffled, as though they were talking with their hands over your mouth. These tones also provide the directional cues that help us locate the source of a sound. Diminished ability to hear these tones can lead to accidents, miscommunication, and other costly mistakes both on the job and elsewhere. And eventually, the hearing loss begins to spread to the lower pitch tones as well, making it difficult to hear all voices, music, and many other things in our everyday life.

“Torey Nalbone, associate professor and chair of civil engineering at the University of Texas at Tyler, suggests it’s the unprotected noises that we take for granted that are short durations at significant intensity levels – those are the ones that are sneaking up on workers and causing hearing conservation problems.”

Hearing Conservation

Impact of NIHL

Employees with noise induced hearing loss often describe their lives as one of isolation, both at work and at home. They get confused and are unable to follow conversations, especially in crowded, noisy places. And because they have trouble hearing voices, they often live under tremendous anxiety and stress that affects both their job and their family life.

Under OSHA rules, the permissible exposure limit for noise in the construction industry is 90 decibels, measured as an 8-hour time-weighted average. At that level, employers are required to provide a hearing conservation program for workers. However, NIOSH advocates lowering the PEL in construction to 85 dBA, which is the cap OSHA sets for general industry.

Hearing Conservation: When an employer is required to provide hearing protectors

Employers must provide hearing protectors to all workers exposed to 8-hour TWA noise levels of 85 dB or above. This requirement ensures that employees have access to protectors before they experience any hearing loss.

Employees must wear hearing protectors:

  • For any period exceeding 6 months from the time they are first exposed to 8-hour TWA noise levels of 85 dB or above, until they receive their baseline audiograms if these tests are delayed due to mobile test van scheduling;
  • If they have incurred standard threshold shifts that demonstrate they are susceptible to noise; and
  • If they are exposed to noise over the permissible exposure limit of 90 dB over an 8-hour TWA.

Employers must provide employees with a selection of at least one variety of hearing plug and one variety of hearing muff. Employees should decide, with the help of a person trained to fit hearing protectors, which size and type protector is most suitable for the working environment. The protector selected should be comfortable to wear and offer sufficient protection to prevent hearing loss.

Hearing protectors must adequately reduce the noise level for each employee’s work environment. Most employers use the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that represents the protector’s ability to reduce noise under ideal laboratory conditions. The employer then adjusts the NRR to reflect noise reduction in the actual working environment.

The employer must reevaluate the suitability of the employee’s hearing protector whenever a change in working conditions may make it inadequate. If workplace noise levels increase, employees must give employees more effective protectors. The protector must reduce employee exposures to at least 90 dB and to 85 dB when an STS already has occurred in the worker’s hearing. Employers must show employees how to use and care for their protectors and supervise them on the job to ensure that they continue to wear them correctly. [1]

Prevention: Establish a workplace Hearing Conservation Program

Most NIHL is due to over-exposure to high noise levels in the workplace and it is the responsibility of the employer to prevent this over-exposure with a hearing conservation program. This does not simply mean giving them some hearing protectors and leaving them on their own. What type of hearing protector is appropriate? What is the appropriate noise reduction rating for the protectors? Do you know the actual noise level the will be used in? How will you ensure the hearing protectors will be worn properly (or at all)? Have you considered reducing the noise at the source? This could potentially eliminate the risk altogether. Maybe the cost of buying a quieter hand tool is less than the long-term cost of the hearing protectors. A comprehensive HCP will deal with all of these issues and ensure the long-term hearing safety of the workers.

A comprehensive Hearing Conservation Program consists of the following elements:

  • Noise Survey and Noise Dosimetry measurement
  • Engineered noise control
  • Hazard postings
  • Hearing Protectors (See dB Blockers) 
  • Baseline & annual hearing tests
  • Hearing Safety Education and Training
  • Annual program review

So if you are looking to reduce noise where you can, provide hearing protection devices where you can’t, help the participants understand the program and how it benefits them, and check them regularly for hearing loss, then we suggest you get a Hearing Conservation Program tailored to your company’s needs.

A strong emphasis must be put on the educational components of the program. These will be the cornerstone of the program and will play a large part in the relative success.

Hearing Conservation Resources: 

CPE Hearing Conservation Checklist

Management Essentials for an Effective Hearing Conservation Program


[1] https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3074/osha3074.html