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Hearing Protection


This is part two of a two part tip on hearing protection for the kiln worker.  Click here to start with part one.


There are two main kinds of products for protecting your hearing:  ear plugs (which fit inside the ear) and ear muffs (which fit over the ear, like stereo headphones).


Worn properly, ear plugs probably offer the most ear protection.  They can reduce noise by up to 30 decibels; when you consider that a tile saw cutting pattern bars can put out more than 100 decibels (greater than a motorcycle at full throttle), a reduction of 30 decibels can be the difference between ringing in your ears and a productive afternoon at the tile saw.


For the best protection, get inexpensive foam ear plugs. These fit better in the ear than other types, and many people find them the most comfortable as well.  They're also among the least expensive to buy.


Second best, and preferable to some people, are larger ear muffs that are worn over the outside of the ear.  Although these don't reduce sound levels quite as much as ear plugs (up to 25 decibels), they can also be effective.  If you wear them, make sure that there's a good seal against the head and that your hair doesn't get trapped beneath the ear muffs.


Also, realize that with ear muffs, the more expensive kind (such as those used for ear protection at gun ranges) are often better than the inexpensive ones sold at many hardware or DIY stores.  Ear muffs are often labelled with a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that indicates the decibel reduction.  Look for a number that's at least 20 (and 25 is better).


Copyright 2005 Brad Walker.  All rights reserved.

For more about safety for the kiln former, visit Greg Rawls's excellent overview of kiln glass health and safety.

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Copyright 2005-2006 by M. Bradley Walker.  All rights reserved.

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