Industry leaders in every field value the importance of safety for employees and managers. This emphasis on safety is even more important in fields that include extremely high levels of occupational noise exposure, such as mining or oil and gas. However, in these extremely loud environments, traditional methods of hearing protection just don't provide enough noise reduction. That's where double hearing protection (DHP) comes in.
What Is Double Hearing Protection?
Double hearing protection (also often referred to as “dual protection”) is exactly what it sounds like: double the amount of hearing protection. This method of hearing protection is achieved when two forms of hearing protection are applied simultaneously. In environments where noise levels exceed 95 dB(A), dual protection that combines the use of earplugs and earmuffs is commonly used. Traditional earplugs with earmuffs can do a great job of blocking out noise in these environments; however, the ability to communicate and react to potential environmental hazards is sacrificed. This is extremely important in environments such as oil and gas locations where noise exceeds 100 dB(A) and common hazards make the need for situational awareness and communication crucial for overall employee safety.
Reasoning and Regulations
While DHP is not stated as a requirement within OSHA rules and regulations, many more specific industry operations have set guidelines that clearly state it as a requirement for safety. One of the industry-specific operations is the Mine Safety & Health Administration, also often referred to as MSHA. The Mine Safety & Health Administration requires miners to wear dual protection when noise exposure equates to greater than 105 dB(A). The advisory and research board backing OSHA has an equally strong recommendation, stating that those who work in environments that are 100 dB(A) and more should wear dual protection.
To some, these regulations may seem overly cautious, but industry leaders have placed dual protection regulations in place for a few different reasons. One of the primary reasons for these regulations is that many workers that are within environments of overly loud noise exposure neglect to wear their protective hearing equipment correctly. Whether or not this neglect is purposeful, no one knows, but the truth remains that workers may not be as protected as they need to be when using only one form of hearing protection at a time.
How much protection is truly achieved by using the DHP method? With DHP, there is usually an additional noise reduction of 4-8dB greater than normal hearing protection. 4-8dB may not sound like much, but these small differences may result in up to 85% of dangerous noise reduced. Clearly, an 85% reduction in dangerous noise significantly decreases workers’ risks of developing noise-induced hearing loss and other noise-related damage.
Sensear's Extreme Noise Headsets
While double hearing protection is achieved by wearing both earplugs and a hearing protection headset device at the same time, Sensear is the only manufacturer of double protection headsets with earplugs integrated into the earmuffs, while also incorporating SENS® Technology for 360° situational awareness, which is often lost in traditional methods of DHP solutions.
Our Extreme Noise Headsets incorporate our unique dual protection feature and offer a total communication solution for hazardous and extremely loud environments, with a noise reduction rating of 36dB NRR. Sensear offers 3 different styles of headsets to fit your needs (headband, behind-the-neck, or helmet-mounted), as well as Extreme Noise Earplugs for use with respirators or other facial restrictors.
October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. Why not take steps to protect your hearing? With prolonged exposure to extreme noises above 95 dB(A), workers become susceptible to hearing loss. The louder the noise, the less time it takes for hearing loss to occur. Understanding noise hazards and protecting your workers in extreme noise work environments can go a long way.
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