Hearing Protection

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Under The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 employers must provide suitable hearing protection where noise exceeds 80dB(A). All EU member states should have complied with the directive as of February 2006.

Continued exposure to noise above 80dB(A) may cause permanent hearing damage costing industry dearly. In addition, noise at work can interfere with communications and make warnings harder to hear causing safety issues

Topics in this guide

Types of Protection


Easy to Damage - Easy to Protect


European Standards


Technologies we Offer


Types of Hearing Protection

Hearing protection products differ in construction, their benefits and applications. Click one of the hearing protection types on the left to discover what each can offer.

Disposable Earplugs

Made from expandable, slow-recovery foam and combining comfort with protection. Once in the ear, foam plugs expand to provide a secure and snug custom fit. This type of earplug should usually be disposed of after single use and is available as individual earplugs or as a corded pair.

Benefits and Application Tips for use
  • Popular due to their low-cost, ease of use and comfort. Disposable earplugs provide fast, simple protection against invasive noise in environments such as construction, metal fabrication and factory production
  • Slowly roll and compress foam earplugs into a very thin cylinder. While compressed, insert the earplug well into the ear canal. Fitting is easier if you reach around the head to pull the ear outward and upward during insertion.
  • Reusable Earplugs

    Reusable earplugs are made from flexible materials that are preformed to fit the ear. Generally available with a joining cord to prevent loss these reusable earplugs are hygienic, economical and comfortable to wear. No sizing is required. Also available in metal detectable format.

    Benefits and Application Tips for use
  • Designed for multiple use, so longerlasting, more economical and offering higher levels of hygiene and comfort. Can be worn for longer periods.
  • Reach around the back of your head and pull outward on the ear while inserting the plug until you feel it sealing. This may seem tight at first, especially if you have never worn earplugs before.
  • Banded Earplugs (Reusable/ Disposable)

    These are easy to use, convenient and extremely comfortable to wear. Easy and quick to put on, take off or store around the neck when not required. These earplugs are ideal for intermittent use.

    Benefits and Application Tips for use
  • Ideal for environments where plugs need to be removed intermittently. Headband reduces risk of losing.
  • Hold the large ends of the pods and swivel them to direct the tips into the ear canal openings. Firmly push and wiggle the pods into the ear canal until a snug seal is obtained. Pulling on the outer ear while pushing the pods will be helpful to most wearers.
  • Ear Defenders

    Ear defenders consist of rigid cups with soft plastic cushions that seal around the ears to reduce noise. They are a popular choice in hearing protection due to their ease of use and greater levels of comfort. Available in headband, neckband, helmet-attachable and folding models to meet the needs of most applications.

    Benefits and Application Tips for use
  • Provide robust protection where higher noise levels present significant risk and require higher attenuation levels: transport, road working, airport, construction, heavy machinery.
  • Ear defenders must fully enclose the ears to seal against the head. Adjust the headband so cushions exert even pressure around the ears to get the best noise reduction. Pull hair back and out from beneath the cushions. Do not wear caps, store pencils behind the ear, or anything that may break the seal.
  • Communication Ear Defenders

    Two options are available: Listen Only offers the wearer the ability to press a button on the shell to reduce attenuation allowing them to hear a conversation without removing the ear defenders.

    Alternatively, Speak and Listen hearing protectors come with either a built-in communication radio for cable-free, short-range communication with other headsets and portable two-way radios which are programmed on the same frequency, or the input to connect a radio receiver and microphone.

    Benefits and Application Tips for use
  • Provide high levels of situational awareness and improved safety by allowing users to block out harmful noise whilst continuing to hear alarms and critical communications. Ideal for mining, offshore or transport industries.
  • Without removing, simply use the button on the shell to reduce attenuation levels and hear critical instructions and signals.

  • Easy to Damage - Easy to Protect

    Move the slider along the volume scale to discover typical decibel levels and potential implications to employee hearing.

    Soft Whisper Conversation Lawnmowing Riveting Jet Take Off

    Employers must provide suitable hearing protection equipment where noise exceeds 80dB(A)

    Short exposure causes moderate to severe loss Wear hearing protectors with extra care

    Brief exposure can cause permanent loss

    European Standards

    European standards which are relevant to the RS range of hearing protection include the following. To find out what each covers, click on topics below.

    Construction, Design and Testing

    EN 352
    Specifies the construction and safety requirements of hearing protectors. Divided into eight parts, protectors may meet one or more of these.

    EN 13819
    This standard describes methods of test for hearing protectors. Divided into two parts, Part 1 covers physical test methods ; Part 2 covers acoustic test methods.

    EN 24869
    This standard specifies methods of measurement of sound attenuation in hearing protectors.

    Radio Disturbance

    EN 55013
    Specifies the limits and methods of test of radio disturbance for sound and television broadcast receivers and associated equipment, including communication ear defenders.

    Hazardous Substances

    EN 50581
    Specifies documentation that a manufacturer needs to provide in respect of a product's compliance with hazardous substance restrictions.

    Electromagnetic Compatibility

    EN 61000
    Applying to communication ear defenders, the various parts of EN 61000 cover all aspects of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) including testing and measurement techniques and limits.

    EN 55022
    An EMC emissions standard which covers multimedia equipment (including broadcast equipment) and also applies to communication ear defenders.

    EN 55024
    This standard defines the immunity test requirements for information technology equipment - including communication ear defenders - in relation to EMC.

    EN 301489
    This specifies requirements for radio communications equipment and associated ancillary equipment, such as communication ear defenders, in relation to electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).

    EN 300328
    Communication ear defenders which comply with this standard are acceptable to be sold across the EU. It relates to effective use of the radio spectrum for wideband transmission systems such as wi-fi and Bluetooth.

    Safety of Equipment

    EN 60950
    Covering the safety of information technology equipment, this standard applies to communication ear defenders.

    For further information and clarification, please see page 22 of the downloadable guide:

    Download PDF Guide

    Technologies we offer

    Use one of these links to view the products on the RS website

    Ear Plugs


    Ear Defenders


    Communication Ear Defenders


    Hearing Accessories