Noise-Cancelling Headphones/Earbuds versus Hearing Protection Devices

You may be considering using noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds in your labs or shops to listen to music during work, but please remember that noise-cancelling headphones and earbuds are not hearing protection devices, although they may look similar in some cases. Using noise-cancelling earbuds or headphones in place of hearing protection may cause permanent hearing impairment because these devices do not protect against occupational noise exposure. Using noise-cancelling earbuds or headphones may also distract you and lead to potential incidents.

Other Ways to Protect Your Hearing

Using noise-cancelling headphones is a good way to passively protect your hearing. They can block out outside noise and allow you to enjoy your music at a lower volume. This is a big deal because music at high volumes is one of the most common ways hearing degrades.  

Other daily things you can do to safeguard hearing:

  • Get a hearing test: Here’s the thing about hearing loss, it can be gradual over time. So gradual that you don’t even notice it’s happening. Our brains are good at adapting to hearing loss — we read lips and rely on social cues. A baseline hearing assessment can help track your hearing loss over time and compare the results to future tests. 
  • Don’t listen to things too loud: This isn’t just your music; listening to your TV and phone calls at lower volumes is a simple way to reduce hearing loss. 
  • Avoid putting anything in your ears: Nothing should go in your ears outside of earbuds. Do not use cotton swabs to clean your ears. They push the ear wax down against your ear drum or puncture it. 
  • Use hearing protection: Just because something isn’t that loud doesn’t mean it can’t damage your hearing. Power tools and lawn mowers may not be as loud as concerts or gunshots, but they can still damage your hearing over time. It’s best to always wear ear protection for loud activities. 
  • Address your hearing needs: If you find yourself needing hearing assistance, the good news is that hearing aids are easier than ever to get. Hearing aids are available over the counter, and in several different styles. You don’t have to live with hearing loss. Talk to your doctor or a specialist to determine your device needs.  

Spencer-SHE has been providing Safety, Health, and Environmental Compliance Guidance since 1980, offering clients cost-effective, turn-key solutions. We can offer noise monitoring and remediation services upon request.

Contact us here to help you to develop and maintain a safe and healthy workforce.