Why Should You Choose Custom-Moulded Over Disposable Earplugs?

September 25, 2012

Custom Molded Vs. Disposable Earplugs

Custom-moulded earplugs, sometimes called Personalized Hearing Protection, are just as, if not more, effective for the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss as are disposable earplugs. There have not been head-to-head studies of the relative effectiveness, but two major long-term retrospective studies of the effectiveness of hearing loss prevention programs can provide insight. Read Complete Whitepaper by Dr. John Franks.

Choose Custom-Moulded Over Disposable Earplugs Abstract

In 1989 Franks, Davis and Krieg (Franks, 1989) reported that noise-exposed employees of a company that provided Employee noise protection custom earplugs to all of its employees had changes in hearing over a ten-year period that were no different from their non-noise-exposed colleagues and peers.  The company had six facilities around the United States with noise-exposed employees as well as a cadre of employees of similar age and gender who were not exposed to workplace noise. All of the employees studied had been with the company for the ten-year period studied. Audiometric, health and hobby histories, as well as noise-exposure levels were known for all employees. A ten-year segment of the records was used for the analysis.

It was company policy to provide custom earplugs for use at work or home as well as to provide disposable earplugs to employees to use outside of work. Analysis of the data revealed that the changes in hearing that were observed were not due to exposure to workplace noise. Having resolved that and adjusting for age, statistical analysis showed hypertension and diabetes increased the propensity to have worsening hearing for women. For men, the factors were hypertension, diabetes, and use of firearms.

Read Complete Whitepaper

In 2011, Heyer, et al. (Heyer N, 2011- view abstract) reported a retrospective analysis of hearing conservation programs for three foam ear plugs different companies, all of which relied upon premoulded or slow-recovery foam disposable earplugs to protect employees from noise-induced hearing loss.

  1. > Company 1 made automobile body components,
  2. > Company 2 made automotive parts,
  3. > Company 3 was a major food processing company.


All of the employees had been at the study sites for longer than the period of time studied. Noise-exposure and hearing protector use histories were established for each employee as were audiometric records including relevant medical and hobby histories. In this study there was not a cohort of fellow non-noise-exposed employees, so the outcome was compared to a standardized set of data (American National Standards Institute, S3.44-1996 (R 2006)). The noise-exposure levels in the three companies studied were similar, as were they to the noise-exposure levels in the Franks, et al. (1989) study. Heyer, et al. found that two factors were associated with changes in hearing: age and noise-exposure level. Because of the strong effects age and noise-exposure level had on the data, it was not possible to assess the influence of other factors.

Had the pre-moulded disposable earplugs been used as effectively as the custom-moulded earplugs, then noise-exposure level should not have been a main effect associated with changes in hearing; with age factored out, noise-exposure level was as much a primary risk as would be expected for the unprotected. 

Read Complete Whitepaper by Dr. John Franks.


Oregon OSHA Noise Exposure and Hearing Conservation (PDF)

Occupational Noise: Assessing the burden of disease from work-related hearing impairment at national and local levels (PDF)

Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss – A Practical Guide (PDF)

Something new at Custom Protect Ear

August 28, 2012

Hearing Protection That Is More Proficient Than Ever

Those of you who visit the Custom Protect Ear (CPE) website often will have noticed a change recently (if you are one the site regularly you either work for us or need to get out more).  For the first time in our 36-year history, CPE is distributing a product we don’t make.  We have decided to distribute the Sensear product line in conjunction with our dB Blocker hearing protectors.  Why?  Because we are committed to being proficient in all forms of hearing protection for all circumstances.  Adding the Sensear product line completes our range (and completes Sensear’s product line as well).

Hearing Protection to complete the CPE Product Range. How?

If you wear hearing aids you need to preserve what is left of your hearing (I certainly would). How do you do that? You need your hearing aid(s) to fill in the missing frequencies so you know what is happening around you. But you still need to reduce the overall volume to a safe level. That an easy job for a muff style hearing protector.  BUT with most muff style hearing protectors you lose the ability to “hear” from where sounds are coming.  This loss of “situational awareness” can be deadly in a online casino noisy plant. Sensear Smart Muffs

Using the Sensear Smart Muff we can now provide  the hearing protection you need with enhanced situational awareness.  Finally, we have the right solution for persons who have already lost some hearing.

Ever been in a smelter?  The air can be toxic, the noise is deafening, but people have to work there. To keep safe they wear protective suits with helmets and shrouds.  To breathe they wear respirators connected to breathable air.  And to communicate they…exactly, how do you communicate with a shroud over your head and a respirator on your mouth?

SP Smart Plug

You use the Sensear SP unit with a dB Blocker earpiece. The earpiece and SP unit capture speech in the ear and broadcast it on whichever radio you are using.  Using Sensear’s SP with a dB Blocker earpiece you can now have perfect hearing effective radio communication in up to 110 dBA of noise.

Person to person communication?  How about hand signals.

Double Protection Smart Muffs

Mining is a noisy business.   Some parts of mining are noisier than others. When you have miners working in various parts of the mine, it often difficult to ensure they always have the right amount of protection from the noise – not too much and certainly not too little.  Using dB Blockers, we provide miners with great personal protection that will allow them to hear the “roof” and warning sounds.  When they have to move to louder areas, we fit a Sensear Smart Muff right over their blockers and they can hear their radios and speak to others in up to 120 dB (using the SDP muff). SDP-with-dB-blocker

These are just a few of the applications CPE can now address more capably by distributing Sensear.  Sensear also now has access to custom made earpieces for their units which affords the wearer enhanced comfort and attenuation.   It’s a marriage made in hearing.

Learn more about Smart Muffs. 


Hearing Conservation best practices are changing north of the 49th!

July 15, 2012

Canadian Standards Association

Hearing Conservation best practices are changing north of the 49th!

CSA, the Canadian Standards Association, a standards development body in Canada, has been asked by the federal, provincial, and territorial OHS regulatory authorities (CAALL-OSH) to develop a standard for the Management of Hearing Conservation Programs in Canada.  The committee undertaking developing this standard has many NHCA members on it and much is being gleaned from work done in the United States and Australasia.Hearing-Conservation

At CSA, standards are grouped under Technical Committees charged with a particular area of specialty (much like ANSI working groups).  The Technical Committee on Occupational Hearing Conservation is supervising this standard.  Under that Committee are the sub committees working on Hearing Protection Devices (SC1), Noise Exposure Assessment and Control (SC2), Hearing Surveillance (Audiometry) (SC3), Vibration Exposure Assessment and Control (SC4), and Hearing Conservation Program Management (SC5).

Having started in 2011, SC5’s development of this new standard, Z1007 Hearing Conservation Program Management, is now well underway. It is to be designed to permit persons not particularly familiar with the technical aspects of hearing conservation to design and manage hearing loss prevention programs where their workplaces noise levels require them.  Further, the standard is being developed as a model that some jurisdictions might use as a basis for legislation or a  “Best Practices” document.

The regulators present on the CSA technical committee supervising this development have requested that the final document stand-alone and not require other standards for its use.  In this way the standard will tell those reading what to do with information rather than how to develop it or interpret it.

In the development of this standard, the committee has drawn on documents prepared by NIOSH, Standards Australia and New Zealand, and ISO Standards from the EU (with permission, of course). As well, Canadian documents and the regulations in the various provinces of Canada, all somewhat different, have been summarized and compared.

NHCA can take pride that long standing members like Alberto Behar, Elliott Berger, Bev Borst, John Franks, Jeffrey Goldberg, Scott Lake, Thias Morata, Theresa Shultz, and Karen Turner are working on this project.

As well, SC1, the Hearing Protection Device standard, is being updated.  SC1 is chaired by Alberto Behar and include NHCA members Elliott Berger, Bev Borst, John Franks, Jeffrey Goldberg, Scott Lake and Jeremy Voix.

CPE: Sensear

July 12, 2012

Custom Protect Ear better serves their customers when it comes to personalized hearing and communication solutions.

Surrey, British Columbia, July 5th, 2012. Custom Protect Ear is proud to announce they will be distributing Sensear products to better serve their customers.  Both companies, Custom Protect Ear (CPE) and Sensear ,  are communication  and hearing protection specialists focused on providing clear communication and hearing protection in noisy environments.  Custom Protect Ear provides personalized hearing protection, dB Blockers™, which will integrate with select Sensear Smart Plug and Muff products. Sensear’s SENS (speech enhancement noise suppression) technology combined with the fit of a dB Blocker will give the wearer a radio communication and hearing protection experience ‘like they’ve never experienced before’.  Combine that with Sensear’s spatial recognition and the wearer is completely in touch with their surroundings. These two experiences combined will help reduce the ongoing ‘cost of noise’ in work environments. Click here to see the Sensear Products on Custom Protect Ears Website.

dB Blockers™ offer “The Smartest Hearing Protection in the World”, especially where interpersonal communication is required. The dB Blocker technology will reduce the cost of noise”; the cost of noise is hearing loss, productivity and risk management. Custom Protect Ear’s flagship product, dB Blockers™, eliminate hearing loss, mitigate risk management, and enhance productivity through effective communication.

“There is an underlying problem with the growing cost of hearing loss prevention in noisy work environments. It was documented that 40% of the companies surveyed reported that they had thought their workers lost up to 30 minutes a day when trying to communicate in noise. Plus, the average cost of hearing conversation programs is $310 per employee per year. With these costs combined with the workers compensation claims doubling in the last 10 years, companies are feeling the squeeze to their bottom line. There is also the issue of ‘human cost of risk management.  It is more important to reduce or eliminate accidents and fatalities in the workplace. If workers cannot hear or communicate, then it’s not clear, and hazards cannot adequately be avoided. It is only a win – win when workers are provided with the right hearing and communication devices that allows them to do their jobs in a noisy workplace.” says Custom Protect Ear’s, Jeffrey Goldberg.

Hearing protection and communication devices need to enable workers to have operational awareness in noisy environments. It is the mission of both Custom Protect Ear and Sensear to provide workers with the same experience in high noise induced areas as they would in low noise areas. Custom Protect Ear’s inventory of Sensear products will allow their customers (Industrial Hygienists, Occupational Therapists and Safety Professionals) to access a total hearing protection and communication solution. The solution, dB Blockers™, will enhance productivity, save money,  eliminate unnecessary costs and associated risks when it comes to providing workers with a safe working environment.


Founded in 2006 in Perth, Australia, and with joint headquarters in Perth and San Francisco, USA, Sensear is a world leader in the development and manufacture of high noise communication headsets. From a global network of sales offices Sensear is selling to end users via distributors,dealers and resellers in the majority of countries around the world. Sensear’s patented combination of hardware and software, isolates, cleans and packages speech while suppressing background noise to a safe level. The award winning technology has been incorporated into both ear plug and ear muff headsets that, whilst retaining situational awareness, enable face to face, mobile/cell phone, short range and two way radio communication in the harshest and noisiest of environments.


Founded in 1976, and with over 1 million wearers, Custom Protect Ear is North America’s largest personalized, industrial hearing protector manufacturer. Hearing conservation is our only business. We do not make hearing aid molds or disposable earplugs. This exclusivity allows us to devote all of our research and expertise to the innovation of better hearing protection. As a result, we have made significant technological  advances in the development of superior hearing protection.


For more information please contact us at:

Laura Bennett | Operations Manager
Email: lbennett@protectear.com
Direct: 1.604.635.3250

Hearing Loss in the Workplace

June 30, 2012

“Hearing loss doesn”t win many headlines. Nor does it win much time in the doctor’s office. But maybe it should. And perhaps maybe North American employers should be the first to listen up.” 

Hearing Loss in the WorkplaceHearing loss in the workplace

I was passed this article from the McClatchy Washington Bureau about addressing  “the dollar and sense of addressing hearingloss in the workplace.” It really appealed to me as I work with a company that manufactures the “Smartest Hearing Protection in the world’– Custom Protect Ear (CPE). CPE are known as the hearing conversation specialists that have been exploring ‘the business cost of noise’. Recently I have learned (and much to my surprise) that many companies bottom line is directly attributed to safety & health program initiatives. After looking at the stats I was surprised  to find that $310 per year/per employee are put toward hearing conservation programs and that does NOT include the other costs of noise, which happens to be another $3,750 per employee/per year more. Click here to see the calculation. 

Who Should Care about Hearing Loss in the Workplace

Until recently I have found that the concern of hearing loss has always been taken lightly by many companies. I mean – when it comes to health and safety many companies are concerned the individual and its surroundings; like being safe around heavy operating machinery, wearing proper eye protection around certain machines, wearing hard hats in construction zones etc, but really how often do you hear about protecting your hearing in the noisy environments?    I do see there is a shift happening where companies are seeing the long term effects of being exposed to a noisy workplace. That is why this is great to those dedicated to taking an interest in protecting your hearing. It is often one of the five senses we take advantage of, but really, we should t hink twice about. So as June is National Employee Wellness Month, I encourage all employees, thought leaders, influencers and companies recognize the “benefits that hearing health and proper hearing health care bring to both the employee and to the company’s bottom line. Making hearing health an integral part of North America’s workplace wellness programs simply makes good business sense.”

 See Full Article on Hearing Loss in the Workplace:

Consider this:

  • – The majority of people with hearing loss are still in the workforce. That’s more than 20 million Americans.
  • – Workers with hearing loss are five times more likely to take sick-days due to severe stress than their co-workers without hearing loss. Perhaps this is because most people with hearing loss don’t get tested and treated.
  • – Hearing loss is linked to a three-fold risk of falling among working-aged people (40 to 69) whose hearing loss is just mild. Falls and fall-related injuries cost billions in health care costs in the United States each year.
  • – Unaddressed hearing loss often leads to isolation, anxiety, and depression. For employers, the estimated annual economic burden of depression, sadness, and mental illness is $348.04 per employee. More absences from work are due to depression, sadness, and mental health issues than from any other illness.
  • – Hearing loss is linked to heart disease. Some researchers even hypothesize that hearing loss could be an early warning against heart disease — America’s number one killer — potentially presenting an opportunity for early intervention, better outcomes, and contained health care costs. Heart disease is a huge expense for American businesses, tallying $368.34 per employee per year when averaged across all employees.


Perhaps the most eye-opening statistics for workers themselves to consider are these:hearing at work

  • – People with untreated hearing loss lose up to $30,000 in income annually, depending on their degree of hearing loss. That’s a loss to society of $26 billion in unrealized federal taxes; and an estimated aggregate yearly income loss of $176 billion due to underemployment.
  • – People with hearing loss who do not use hearing aids are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as their peers who use hearing aids.

Moving people to acknowledge and address their own hearing loss has long been an uphill battle, largely due to the fear that people have of growing or appearing old. And because most hearing loss progresses gradually — and is not acutely life-threatening — people tend to put off dealing with it. Too often, people ignore their hearing loss for far too long, allowing it to take its toll on their quality of life, cognitive function, mental and physical well-being, relationships, and their effectiveness and opportunities in the workplace. Unfortunately, fewer than 15 percent of people are screened for hearing loss by their doctors during their annual physical exams.

For both workers and employees, the stakes on hearing health are high. Over the past generation, hearing loss grew at 160 percent of the U.S. population growth. We now live in an age in which MP3 players, ear buds, and loud recreational activities abound. What was once considered age-related hearing loss is being seen more frequently at younger ages. American workers are losing their hearing earlier on in their careers. And America’s baby boomers are aging. What’s more, as global financial conditions remain uncertain, people are staying in the workforce longer, delaying retirement. The financial and human resource risks of leaving hearing loss unaddressed in the workplace have never been so high.

The good news is that the vast majority of people with hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids. Quality of life improves for three out of four who use hearing aids. And for people with milder hearing loss, studies have shown that the use of hearing aids reduces the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent, and from 65 to 77 percent for those whose hearing loss is severe to moderate.

We know from experience that good communication enhances performance, productivity, job satisfaction, and results. Simply put: Unaddressed hearing loss is an unnecessary and not insoluble barrier to good communication.

Employers have a responsibility to create working environments in which individuals with hearing loss are unafraid to acknowledge and address their hearing impairment. By encouraging workers to have their hearing checked as part of the company’s workplace wellness program, those with hearing loss will be far less likely to hide it, and will be far more likely to seek treatment. Together, the employer and employee can identify the most appropriate accommodations to help ensure that a worker’s hearing loss does not interfere with job performance, productivity, safety, quality of life, morale, opportunities, or success in the workplace. Read more here: 


Dr. Sergei Kochkin is Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute in Washington DC. He can be reach by email at skochkin@betterhearing.org.

McClatchy Newspapers did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy Newspapers or its editors.



Cost of ‘Do It Yourself Travel’.

June 11, 2012

Cost of Noise? Or Cost of Traveltravel expensive

“Normally I don’t use this blog for personal issue BUT recently I had an experience that has caused me to want to cross that line.”  

I was recently at the American Society of Safety Engineers Conference (ASSE) which coincided with the National Hearing Conservation Association annual executive council meeting – a whole lot of hearing conservation in Denver this week (shh).

The conference was well attended and Custom Protect Ear was busy.  In the trade show we were inundated with companies that had challenges in their hearing conservation programs asking if we could help them. If someone asked us what Denver looks like our answer would have to be 16th Street? Why? Because we spent every evening dining and walking on 16th street; a delightful mix of shops, restaurants, with free bus service running the 1/2 mile of the street.

OK enough of the travelogue. What has cause me to personalize this, is my attempt to return home, back to Vancouver BC. Stories about airline travel and what has happened to it are legend. Most of us who fly harken back to the “good old days” when flying was somewhat pleasant.  I’m not sure we recognized that those were the good days back then, but with hindsight, they were certainly better. This march toward airline efficiency has delegated the process of flying to the individual and the public.  We are encouraged to be our own travel agents using Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak, Orbitz, Priceline, Hotwire and others.  The pricing for hotel rooms, airline seats, tours all are subject to extreme variability.  We can buy or own seats directly from the airline, book our hotel rooms directly from the hotel, and even look for our luggage on line.

Before I make my point, a word of qualification. I love computers and computing. I have been computer semi literate since 1984 when I bought my first Texas Instruments P.C. I’ve travelled with a computer since Toshiba launched the 1100 dual disk drive portable.  All of this is by way of saying I’m not afraid of computing.  That said, I think all of us should immediately stop booking our own travel and return to using professionals.  Firstly they need the work.  More importantly, the airlines have made the process of booking travel a minefield of potential hurt.  Let me give you an example of what happened to me just last night.

The Experience

Eager to book in for my flight today, I went online to United Airlines website,as I have done many times before.  I advised United cost of travel that, yes I would be flying from Denver to Vancouver and no, I wouldn’t check any bags. Yes I’d like to see where I’m seated, as I have a preference to carry my luggage on the plane therefore, picking the right seat in advance allows me exit the plane as soon as possible.  I often prefer to sit forward so it’s easy to exit the vessel. On United getting a forward seat is known as “Economy Plus”. United charges an additional fee for a “Plus” seat, which at the time was worth it to me. But that’s where the trouble started. In my ‘seat changing option’, the United online system offered me some alternative flight choices (I was curious and thought, why not ). My meeting was ending at noon so an earlier departure could have been  worthwhile.

Here is the process I went through online:

  • Click.  3 choices, 2 obviously requiring a stop enroute and a 3rd looking like it went straight to Vancouver.  $75 dollar to change but getting home earlier is worth it.
  • Click.  Now to select a seat; this is where the wheels start to come off.  The direct flight to Vancouver is actually 2 segments stopping in San Francisco.  Well maybe that’s not so bad, let’s select a seat.  The same seat wasn’t available on that flight, requiring me to move seats in SFO. All of this led me to regret changing flights. But wait, THERE’S NO UNDO.  You cannot undo the changes you make without calling a person.  OK, I can do that. A call to United Airlines was less than fruitful and here’s how it went


Here is the process I went through on the phone:

  • Me: Hi there can you change my flight back to what I had originally booked with the upgrade, and get a refund on the seat change?
  • United Airlines Operator: Yes we can change you back to your original flight. However we cannot refund the fee for changing flights. And No we cannot apply the original ‘upgrade fee’ for an upgrade on this flight. Sir, you would have to pay for an additional upgrade and then claim a refund from United for the ‘original’ upgrade you had already paid for.


So all in all I had to take the same flight I was booked on originally and I had to pay an additional $114 because I tried to be my own travel agent. So my advice, and as I say in my everyday business, let the people who are trained and specialized in their field to ‘do the work’. Ironically, my trip was about helping professionals fight against the ‘cost of noise’,  and here in this blog I am fighting against the cost of ‘do-it-yourself travel’. The airlines are too clever and luring you into things you’ll pay for and not benefit from.  And don’t even get me started on buying this “meals” on board….


See the dB Blocker “All Sport” at the Motorcycle show.

January 12, 2012

Check out the All Sport™All Sport

All Sport™ Fidelity stereo sound from your digital music player or bike sound system. All Sport™ lets you hear the full range of your recording even at highway speeds. For the rider who wants to listen to their digital music player or radio, All Sport™ is the ideal way to take your tunes on the road. All Sport™ is a headset that connects to your digital music player and is specially designed to work in the harsh environment bikers endure. Wind noise, bike rumble, and traffic sounds compound to make listening to radio or music a challenge while riding. Custom Protect Ear has found a solution.All Sport™ uses dB Blocker® ear pieces giving you extremely comfortable isolation from wind noise, bike growl and the quality music sounds of specially tuned dual stereo transducers. The sound reaches the protector through sound tubes that pass over the ear. This over-the-ear design allows for use with either full face or 1/2 shell helmets. It also allows for your All Sport™ to be easily repaired if you damage them.


• Motorcycle
• Snowmobiles
• Gym
• Industrial Workers
• Air Travel


• dB Blocker® custom fitted ear pieces allows listeners to wear All Sport™ in complete comfort.
• The ear pieces are made from soft, flexible, medical grade, SkinSoft™ hypoallergenic silicone.
• All Sport™ can be worn with full face as well as ½ shell helmets.
• The dB Blocker ear pieces create isolation from wind, traffic and bike noise.
• All Sport™ has high quality stereo music transducers.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF: dB Blocker All Sport

Edmonton motorcycle show


Plus come see out Booth at the Edmonton Motorcycle Show Jan 13th – 15th, 2012. Come see us at the Edmonton Expo Centre – Booth #818.


vancouver motorcycle


Check out the Custom Protect Ear booth at this year’s Vancouver Motorcycle show. 
Booth #417.