NIOSH Adds Online Tool for Quick Hearing Protector Check

Researchers at NIOSH's Pittsburgh Research Laboratory have developed QuickFitWeb, an online tool to allow users to check their hearing protection in a minute or less. The site notes that ear muffs, ear plugs, and other hearing protection devices can reduce the risk of hearing loss, but only if the wearer gets a good fit and wears them properly. The NIOSH sound player tool allows users to perform a quick test of whether they are getting at least a minimal 15 decibel (dB) level of protection.

The test sounds are bands of random noise with a center frequency of 1000 Hz. This is the same type of sound used in standard hearing protector ratings including the "American National Standard Methods for Measuring the Real-Ear Attenuation of Hearing Protectors" (ANSI S12.6). Both tracks are the same, but the second track is 15 decibels (dB) louder than the first. Most hearing protectors will block or "attenuate" sound by more than 15 dB if they are the right size and shape to fit the ears and are worn correctly. A sound that is barely audible at a worker's threshold of hearing without hearing protection should be inaudible though hearing protection even if it's boosted by 15 dB.

To use the tool, visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/topics/hearingloss/quickfitweb.htm.

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