09 Persoonlijke beschermingsmiddelen
 >  Hearing protection
Discussion > Discuss this with your colleagues!
  • How can I safely hear what I need to hear?
  • How do I choose the best protection that is suitable under my working conditions?
  • The only hearing protection I use is fitted hearing protection.

Working with machines, electrical tools/equipment or working adjacent to a motorway or railway can be damaging to hearing. When you are exposed to loud noise for long periods of time, this can result in permanent hearing damage. 

The standard for harmful noise for an eight-hour workday is an average noise level of 80 dB(A).

How to recognize harmful noise: When you are located one metre from someone else and are unable to properly understand the other person at normal voice level then the noise level is higher than 85 dB(A).

  • A normal discussion results in a noise level of approximately 60 dB(A).
  • The pain threshold is above 120 DB(A).
  1. At an exposure of more than 80 dB(A) wearing hearing protection is compulsory!
Risks > What can happen?

Noise is harmful at exposure levels of 80 dB(A) or more over an eight-hour workday.


Incidental exposure to harmful noise can result in:

  • Temporary hearing loss;
  • Tinnitus;
  • Hearing high-pitched sounds.

Constant exposure to harmful noise can result in:

  • Permanent hearing loss;
  • Stress or psychological complaints.

Permanent hearing loss 

  • You are no longer able to hear high-pitched tones or soft sounds;
  • You have difficulty hearing phone conversations;
  • You have difficulty following a conversation in a noisy area;
  • You sometimes hear whistling, high-pitched or buzzing sounds.

Less known, but recognizable when we think about it more carefully, are consequences such as:

  • Fatigue;
  • Concentration disturbances;
  • Hindrances in discussions and a risk of miscommunication;
  • Chance of accidents due to a failure of hearing warning signals.

These consequences in turn can result in accidents on the shopfloor or in production losses; however, they can also result in reduced well-being at work and during your personal life.
Fatigue after a long workday is normal; however, exposure to noise further increases fatigue. 

Measures > What you must do

Measures at source:

  • Use casings and noise-dampening materials;
  • Keep the cabin door and windows closed, so that outside noise does not come inside;
  • Turn off machines and compressors when they are not in use;
  • Ensure machines and tools are well maintained so that parts do not start rattling;
  • Clamp workpieces so they won’t start vibrating;
  • Keep casings and protective covers on machines closed and have silencers mounted on tools and equipment.
  • Do not turn up the radio too loud (it is better to put four radios distributed across the workplace on at the same time at lower volume than one radio at a central point too loudly!).

Collective provisions:

  • Markings affixed to tools and machines: ‘Hearing protection mandatory’

Personal protection:
Often what this brings to mind is standard hearing protection or fitted aids. But what is the real purpose of hearing protection? Hearing protection does not mean ‘damping all sound’, but ensuring that you can safely hear what you need to be able to hear. When this is not possible, people will remove the hearing protection, even if it fits very well.

It is important to realize that there is no such thing as a single solution that is suitable for everyone and every situation. A number of examples will be reviewed below together with their advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the situation you must choose the best protection under the circumstances, which means that at times you must switch between different aids.

Individual custom-made hearing protection

  • Safe, comfortable and custom-made. Advantages: optimal fit, wearing comfort and protection. Note: our ear constantly changes due to movement throughout the day, heat accumulation, fatigue and irritation, and because of weight increase or decrease.
  • The maximum service life of Elacin soft otoplastic is 4 years (based on fitting, damping, product and materials).
  • The delivery date of the fitted otoplastics is stored by the supplier Intersafe Groeneveld digital, to enable the user to be notified when the otoplastics have reached the end of their service life.
  • Maintenance and cleaning prevent ear infections and prolong service life.
  • Drawback: dust can enter the ear as the device is inserted.

Earmuffs with an external environment listening function, for example ‘level-dependent earmuffs’ or electronic earplugs. In addition, there are options that allow earmuffs to be connected to a telephone or walkie-talkie. This way the external environmental noise is limited, but messages from colleagues are clearly heard.

Intersafe/3M supplies suitable solutions for any situation. Ask your PPE Coordinator about the available options.

A much less known aid is the Switch plug. The advantage of this plug is that it has multiple settings for adjusting the hearing protection. When you are in an environment with changing peaks, the plug may be a simple solution. You do not need to remove the plug from your ear, but can adjust it externally to respond to the situation.

Tips > For more information

Hearing protection, no matter how well chosen, only provides the desired protection when it is correctly chosen and worn.

Here’s the link to the supplier Intersafe Groeneveld: https://esm2.intersafe.eu/employee.

For more information about hearing protection, visit: https://www.arboportaal.nl/onderwerpen/gehoorbescherming

Employees can measure harmful noise on the shopfloor themselves

Use the FNV Decibel Meter to measure noise at your workplace. With this free app you can see the noise volume you are exposed to at work. The app immediately issues advice relating to your work situation: is it safe or not? The app uses your telephone’s microphone to measure the noise volume in decibels (dB). Whether the noise is harmful to your hearing depends on the volume and the time of exposure. The FNV Decibel Meter is available free of charge in the app store for iPhone as well as Android phones.

Scan de volgende code met de app om deze toolbox te bekijken.