Online Tool: Is Your Hearing Protection Providing Adequate Attenuation?

hearing_protectionAn 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…


Hearing Protection Quick Test

  1. For best results, conduct this test in a quiet room (background noises can interfere with the test sounds). You can listen through speakers or headphones connected to your computer. Speakers will work with either earmuffs or earplugs. Headphones can be used with earplugs and should be the full-sized “circumaural” type that covers the entire ear and does not press on the inserted earplug.
  2. Click “1. Without hearing protection” in the sound player display above and adjust the volume so the sound is barely audible (you may need to use the controls on your computer along with the on-screen slider.
  3. Put on your hearing protection. If using soft foam earplugs, we recommend the NIOSH Roll-Pull-Hold method.
  4. Click “2. With hearing protection” and listen for the test sound.
  5. You should not be able to hear the test sound if your hearing protection is fitted properly. If you can hear this track, re-fit your hearing protection and repeat Step 4.

Source: NIOSH Quick Fit Web