The 5 Best Ear Plugs and Ear Defenders for the Spray Shop


The 5 Best Ear Plugs and Ear Defenders for the Spray Shop.

AuthorAndy Potts September 16th 2020 (reading time 3 mins)  

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Noise from paint shop plant and working practices can cause hearing problems and contribute to accidents in the workplace. For this reason, employers are required by law to comply with the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and put measures in place to protect their workforce from harmful noise pollution. One of those measures is issuing spray technicians with suitable hearing protection, such as ear plugs or ear defenders. Here are our top 5 hearing PPE devices and how to choose the right type for your workers’ needs.

This article covers:

  • The problems that noise exposure can cause in the paint shop
  • A summary of employers’ legal obligations and where to find more information
  • What the hearing protection Single Number Rating (SNR) is and how it works
  • Five tried and tested products that will look after your spray technicians’ hearing

 

The problems that noise exposure can cause in the paint shop

  1. Health risks

Long-term exposure to loud noise at work and sudden exposure to extremely loud noises can cause:

  • A gradual and permanent loss of hearing
  • Muffled hearing
  • Tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, whistling or humming in the ears)
  1. Safety risks

A noisy work environment can interfere with communications, making warnings hard to hear and reduce workers’ awareness of their surroundings. These issues increase the risk of accidents, injury and even death in the workplace.

 

ear-plugs-against-work-noise-levels

Typical noise levels of plant and working practices in the paint shop

Employers must measure the noise levels of their workplace plant and activities, but on average, levels in spray painting range from 82 and 110dB(A).

Typical noise sources at the operator ear level include:

  • Air compressor – 85 – 89 dB(A)
  • Angle grinder 97 – 110 dB(A)
  • Processes involving compressed air – 93–110 dB(A)
  • Sander (air/electric) – 82 – 100 dB(A)
  • Spray booth environment — 75 – 91 dB(A)

 

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and employers’ legal obligations

All businesses are required to eliminate or reduce risks to health and safety from noise at work under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.  The Regulation states that employees should be issued with hearing protection equipment under the following circumstances:

  • Where extra protection is needed above what has been achieved using noise control
  • As a short-term measure while other methods of controlling noise are being developed

If your risk assessment identifies that your employees should be issued with hearing protection, you are required to:

  • Provide any employee with hearing protectors if they ask for it and their noise exposure is between the lower and upper exposure action values of 80-85 dB
  • Provide all employees with hearing protectors and ensure they use them properly when their noise exposure exceeds the upper exposure action value of 85 dB
  • Identify hearing protection zones — areas where the use of hearing protection is compulsory, marked by signs if possible
  • Provide employees with training and information on how to use and care for hearing PPE
  • Ensure that the hearing protectors are properly used and maintained

Things to bear in mind when selecting hearing PPE for your employees

  1. DO make sure hearing PPE provides sufficient protection — 85dB or less at the ear.
  2. DO provide hearing protectors that are suitable for the paint shop environment — consider comfort, hygiene and compatibility with other PPE (respirators, visors and dust masks, etc.).
  3. DO provide a range of hearing protection devices – so that employees can choose a style that fits comfortably.
  4. DON’T overprotect – cutting out too much noise (below 70dB) can cause difficulties with communication and hearing warning signals. This creates safety risks, and workers are likely to remove their hearing PPE to avoid the dangers of being isolated in their environment.

Visit the HSE website for more information about the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and employers’ legal obligations.

Understanding the hearing protection Single Number Rating (SNR)

All hearing PPE has a Single Number Rating (SNR) which determines the level of protection it provides. The higher the SNR level, the higher the level of hearing protection.

How to work out the right level of hearing protection for your work environment

  1. Take the necessary noise measurements in your workshop using a Class 2 sound level meter to get the measured LCeg (average noise level measured).
  2. Obtain the SNR number on the technical specification of the hearing protection that you are considering using.
  3. Subtract the SNR number from the average noise level to arrive at the noise level in dB at the ear with protection.

 

Ear-Defender-Sign-300x300

Example: 

Average noise level = F90dB

SNR of selected hearing protection = 20dB

F90dB – 20dB = 70dB at the ear

The HSE recommends allowing 4dB for ‘real-world’ factors, such as imperfect fit and the directional nature of noise. So, at 4dB onto your “at the ear” figure to arrive at your final calculation.

Example: 

70dB + 4dB = 74dB at the ear

In the above example, the selected hearing protection is suitable for the work environment.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If the noise you intend to protect against is tonal or dominated by low frequencies then HSE recommends using the octave band analysis method rather than the SNR method to calculate the required level of hearing protection.

HSE Hearing Protection Calculators

The HSE website has a handy tool that makes easy work of noise protection calculations and tells you if your selected hearing PPE is suitable for your requirements. It’s particularly useful for calculating using octave band analysis, which uses a complex formula.

Our top 5 ear plugs and ear defenders for the spray shop

noisebeta-best-ear-pugs

Noisebeta Banded Foam Earplugs – Box of 20 

Price: £39.99 (ex. VAT) £47.99 (inc. VAT)

SNR: 20dB

These lightweight ear plugs provide semi-aural protection and feature a connected band that allows easy fit and removal. They are designed to be worn under the chin or behind the neck, making them ideal for intermittent usage and a sensible choice if you’re prone to losing single foam plugs. The price tag is higher than single plugs, but the cost balances out as they come with a pair of replacement earpods, and you’re unlikely to lose them!

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Soft, comfortable foam
  • Long-lasting
  • High noise reduction
  • Compatible with hoods, visors and full-face respirators
  • Connected band for easy fit and removal
  • Can hang around neck for easy access
  • Suited to intermittent usage
  • Can be used with dirty or gloved hands
  • Individually wrapped for hygiene
  • Tested and CE Approved to BS EN352-2:200

Cons:

  • Not washable
  • Pressure in the ear can be uncomfortable

ear-defenders-and-ear-plugs

Noisebeta Foam Corded Earplugs – Dispenser Box of 200prs 

Price: £59.99 (ex. VAT) £71.99 (inc. VAT)

SNR: 34dB

BetaFit’s Noisebeta foam corded earplugs offer similar benefits to the banded earpods but with the addition of a convenient dispenser so that hearing protection is always available when your sprayers need it. If you do take the plugs off and forget where you’ve put them, their bright yellow colour makes them easy to spot. And with 200 individually wrapped pairs per dispenser, stock control will be easy to manage, and you’ll make bulk buy savings too.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Soft, comfortable foam
  • High noise reduction
  • Compatible with hoods, visors and full-face respirators
  • Bulk value
  • Flexible connecting cord – hang around neck for easy and accessible storage when not in use
  • Dispenser provides employees with quick and convenient access to ear protection
  • Bulk value
  • Refill packs available
  • Tested and CE Approved to EN352-2:2002

Cons:

  • Must have clean, ungloved hands to insert
  • Can drop out or be ineffective if not inserted correctly
  • Not washable
  • Must replace frequently

ear-plug-dispenser

Noisebeta Earplug Dispenser – 500prs 

Price: £66.75 (ex. VAT) £80.10 (inc. VAT)

SNR: 34dB

If your sprayers aren’t prone to losing their ear plugs around the workshop, this wall-mounted dispenser with 500 individual disposable foam plugs offers convenience and great value for money.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Soft, comfortable foam
  • High noise reduction
  • Compatible with hoods, visors and full-face respirators
  • Dispenser provides employees with quick and convenient access to ear protection
  • Bulk value
  • Refill packs available
  • Tested and CE Approved to BS EN352-2:2002

Cons

  • Must have clean, ungloved hands to insert
  • Not washable
  • Must replace frequently

 

noisbeta-foam-earplugs

Noisebeta Foam Earplugs – Dispenser Box of 200prs 

Price: £22.99 (ex. VAT) £27.59 (inc. VAT)

SNR: 34dB

Comfortable and with a simple roll-to-fit application, these classic disposable ear plugs are a no-fuss solution for your workforce. Each pair of ear plugs is individually wrapped for hygiene, and the disposable box can be used alone or inserted into the HPHAPD wall dispenser for additional convenience. 

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Soft, comfortable foam
  • High noise reduction
  • Compatible with hoods, visors and full-face respirators
  • Individually wrapped pairs for hygiene
  • Dispenser box for quick access to ear protection
  • Handy size for taking on-site
  • Bulk value
  • Compatible with Noisebeta HPHAPD wall dispenser
  • Tested and CE Approved to BS EN352-2:2002

Cons:

  • Must have clean, ungloved hands to insert
  • Not washable
  • Must replace frequently

ear-defenders-over-ear

Industrial & Lightweight Ear Defenders 

Price: £6.99 (ex. VAT) £8.39 (inc. VAT)

SNR: 30dB 

On-ear defenders are tough and rugged and will stand up to the working conditions of the spray shop. If you’re not a fan of in-ear devices or lose foam plugs by the dozen, these adjustable and padded ear defenders are a comfortable alternative.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Reusable
  • Washable/wipeable
  • Long-lasting
  • Padded and adjustable for comfort
  • Can be used with dirty or gloved hands
  • Hang around neck for easy and accessible storage when not in use
  • Tested and CE Approved to  EN352-1

Cons:

  • Not as comfortable as in-ear plugs
  • Heat and moisture build-up
  • Not compatible with all other forms of head PPE

 

Need more advice on hearing PPE?                                                               

Give our friendly Total Paint Shop Support Team a call on 01302 856666 or drop us an email at sales@ultrimaxcoatings.co.uk and we’ll help you choose the best ear plugs and ear defenders for your paint shop.

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Download: Ultrimax Catalogue

 

 

Need more ear safety advice?         

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We’d love to help. Give our friendly Total Paint Shop Support Team a call on 01302 856666 or drop us an email at sales@ultrimaxcoatings.co.uk for more freshwater and canal boat painting guidance.

Sign up for new updates as we release them: Sign up

YouTube: Need advice but like watching short videos? Check out our YouTube Help Channel.

Download: Ultrimax Catalogue                                       

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