An extremely useful field tool to determine if you are achieving adequate attenuation with your hearing protection has been devised by NIOSH. Have you used this in your workplace? How successful has it been? Let us know in the comments section of this post.
Loud noise can permanently damage your hearing. It especially affects the sounds that help you understand speech.
Earmuffs, earplugs, and other hearing protection devices can reduce your risk of hearing loss, but only if you get a good fit and wear them properly.
Follow the instructions for the sound player on the right side of this page to perform a quick test of whether you are getting at least a minimal 15 decibel (dB) level of protection.
How it Works
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 your ears and are worn correctly. A sound that is barely audible at your threshold of hearing without hearing protection should be inaudible though hearing protection even if it’s boosted by 15 dB.
Online or Offline Testing:
You can also download the test sounds to check your hearing protection offline with an MP3 player or computer multimedia player. Download or play online, these two tracks:
Track 1: Without Hearing Protection NIOSH QuickFit Without HPD
Track 2: With Hearing Protection NIOSH QuickFit With HPD
For online testing, click the links, goto the .mp3 page, then click the file. Quicktime (or the program you have installed on your computer) will play the file. To download the files for offline testing, right-click the link and choose “Save File As…” or similar selection from the menu.
Continue Reading for the Instructions…