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NPSF™ -- Are you just trying to protect someone from noise-induced hearing loss?

What to Try... ...And Why:
Disposable Foam Ear Plugs Disposable foam ear plugs offer the highest level or protection you can get in a single hearing protective device, but you must get them properly inserted, and you must select the right plug to fit your ears. Here is a short video tutorial on how to properly fit disposable foam ear plugs. To find the perfect ear plug for you or your team, we offer several ear plug trial packs that let you try out a bunch to find your favorites. If you are an employer, you probably already know that training your employees in proper use of the disposable foam ear plugs you provide is mandatory. You are welcome to use the video at the above link for your corporate training if you wish. You probably also know that OSHA recommends that you offer a range of different disposable foam ear plugs so that all your employees can find a plug that fits them comfortably. disposable foam ear plugs are ideal for occasional use, and they are the least expensive hearing protective device you can buy, but if you or your workers need to use them daily, a reusable ear plug or a custom fitted ear plug might make more economical sense in the long run. disposable foam ear plugs also generate a lot of trash in the form of discarded plugs and their poly bags. You can reduce the trash problem by getting your disposable foam ear plugs in bulk dispensers. The dispensers also reduce the consumption of ear plugs by making it more difficult to just grab a big handful of plugs... which can be a plus or a minus depending on your specific situation.
No-Roll Foam Ear Plugs No-roll foam ear plugs are foam ear plugs with a hard plastic stem. The stem lets you simply push the foam plugs down into the ear canal without having to first roll the foam into a tight cylinder. This lets you insert and remove the plugs without having to touch the foam, so they are less likely to become dirty between uses. No-roll foam ear plugs are designed for short term use, similarly to disposable foam ear plugs, but because they can be reinserted without having to be rolled, No-roll foam ear plugs do generally last a little longer than disposable foam ear plugs. Their higher cost makes No-roll foam ear plugs far less popular than disposable foam ear plugs, but for those who just cannot get the hang of rolling the plugs, no-roll foam ear plugs offer a good alternative that provides almost as good performance at a better price than do most of the other options.
Reusable Pre-Molded Ear Plugs Reusable pre-molded ear plugs let you reuse the same set of ear plugs for days or even weeks at a time, even with all day, every day use, saving a lot of money over time compared to disposable foam ear plugs. One challenge with reusable pre-molded ear plugs is that they can become dirty between uses and can then cause ear infections. Because of this problem, plus the added cost to buy them, and their generally lower level of protection, reusable pre-molded ear plugs are not as widely used in large industrial settings as are disposable foam ear plugs. For the home hobbyist/handyman, though, reusable pre-molded ear plugs are an excellent choice as long as you have the discipline to clean your ear plugs and store them properly after each use. It can cost more in experimentation to find a reusable pre-molded ear plug you like since they are more expensive than are disposable foam ear plugs, and just as with disposable foam ear plugs, you will have to experiment with different models to find which you like best. We offer a trial pack of the industrial reusable ear plugs that can help you find one you like.
Banded Ear Plugs Banded ear plugs are plastic bands fitted with foam, molded silicone or gel tips. The band applies clamping pressure that holds the tips in place, either in the canal, or more commonly, just plugging the opening of the canal. Banded ear plugs are a good solution for those who just need the protection for a small percentage of the time, and who need to be able to quickly remove or put the plugs in place. Banded ear plugs can simply hang around the neck between uses, and they are much lighter weight and less cumbersome than ear muffs, which are also a good choice for occasional use through the day. Another benefit of banded ear plugs is that you do not need to touch the tips to insert them, so they are less likely to become soiled through handling than are other kinds of ear plugs.
Moldable Silicone or Wax Ear Plugs Moldable ear plugs are simple blobs of silicone putty or wax, which is usually mixed with cotton fibers to help keep the wax together when it gets below about 85 degrees or so. Moldable ear plugs have the advantage of protecting hearing without the need to insert anything into the ear canal. Moldable ear plugs fill the outer ear, covering the opening to the canal, so they are very comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. The downsides to moldable ear plugs include a lower NRR of about 22-25 dB, their high initial cost (though the cost per use is about the same as for foam, because they last longer in situations where they can be kept clean,) their stickiness which can capture dirt and hair reducing their usable life, and for wax, the requirement that they be kneaded for a while before inserting them. Kneading is required to warm and soften them up each time you use them, but this can be facilitated by carrying them in a pocket close to the body where they remain warm and soft. Silicone putty is more stable, and requires no preparatory kneading to soften them, but both kinds must be kneaded a little to renew the tackiness that holds them in the ear. For workers who must wear ear plugs for protection, moldable ear plugs do offer an alternative for those with sensitive ear canals, those who have ear injuries or infections that will not allow the use of in the canal types of ear plugs, but other than these exceptions moldable ear plugs are generally too costly for general, daily use in industry.
Adhesive Foam Ear Plugs Adhesive foam ear plugs are the newest type of ear plug. Adhesive foam ear plugs are a triangular shaped piece of foam, about 1/8 inch thick, with adhesive on one side. They are used to hold the tragus (the small flap of skin and cartilage just forward of the ear canal) down over the canal opening. This is similar to what most people do when they "put their fingers in their ears" to avoid a loud noise. They press the tragus down to cover the canal opening, and this is quite effective. The benefits of the Ear Muffers, the only brand of adhesive foam ear plugs currently available, are the high NRR 33 decibel rating, and the ability to protect from loud noise without having anything inserted into the ear canal. The disadvantages are the high initial cost, and the need to clean the skin where the adhesive has to go in order to get a good seal each time. Adhesive foam ear plugs are a single use product because the adhesive is compromised after use, so it will not stick effectively a second time, making adhesive foam ear plugs the most expensive ear plugs per use, of any currently available. That said, adhesive foam ear plugs can sometimes offer the only solution for special situations.
Passive Ear Muffs Passive ear muffs are plastic cups filled with sound deadening foam, with a pad that presses against the head, fully enclosing the ear. A headband, neckband, or hardhat attachment presses on the outside of the ear cups so that they are pressed firmly against the head to seal out noise. Passive ear muffs are very quick and easy to put on and take off, and they are generally more comfortable to wear than are ear plugs, especially if protection is only needed periodically. Passive ear muffs rely on size and bulk to block noise, so those that block an amount of noise similar to a foam ear plug, are of necessity, quite bulky and heavy, and so they can make you uncomfortable if you must wear them for long periods, especially in hot and humid conditions. In cold situations, passive ear muffs can actually help keep your ears warm. Passive ear muffs are more expensive to buy than most ear plugs, but they do last longer, so the cost per use is quite low.
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