RR720 - Real world use and performance of hearing protection
This report considers the effectiveness of hearing protectors in everyday work situations. The study
reported here was undertaken in two parts. The first consisted of interviews with employers to discuss
management of noise and hearing protector use, and on site observation of hearing protector use. The
purpose of these visits was to see:
- how well hearing protection was used;
- the training provided;
- the use of other PPE and equipment that may limit attenuation;
- behavioural factors affecting use, taking into account the noise exposure of employees and the
environment in which the hearing protection is worn.
The second part was objective laboratory measurements of hearing protector insertion loss. The purpose
of these measurements was to quantify the reduction in protection due to poor fitting or maintenance for
a range of hearing protectors. Earmuffs were tested using the MIRE (microphone in real ear) method while
earplug insertion loss was measured using a head and torso simulator with a simulated pinna and ear
This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents,
including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the author alone and do not necessarily
reflect HSE policy.
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