Earplugs or Ear Muffs – How to Choose Hearing Protection

If you have a job that requires hearing protection, then you’ll have to choose between earplugs or ear muffs at some point. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages. In order to choose the right one, you should consider what they offer. Our guide will look at the differences between plugs and muffs to help you make a smart choice.

3M Peltor Kid Earmuffs with Headband, 27 dB, Neon Green – Ear defender with comfortable wear for children - 1x Ear Protector in neon green

Ear Muff Benefits

The main advantage of using ear muffs is that they fit snugly. They don’t have to be specially made or prepared, and can be placed over your head. That makes them the ideal choice for intermittent use and they are particularly suitable for landscaping and construction work.

As ear muffs are easy to fit, they offer a reliable, consistent fit. That means that the protection the person wearing them gets will match the protection the ear muff claims to offer. That is important because workers might not always be able to fit earplugs properly.

For a cooler climate, ear muffs are the more comfortable choice when wearing ear protection for a prolonged period of time. For warmer climates, earplugs might prove to be more comfortable due to the humid, warm nature of ear muffs.

Drawbacks of Ear Muffs

Ear muffs are easier to fit, but they generally offer less protection than earplugs. That is because ear muffs only sit over the ears, instead of fitting directly into the ear canal like plugs. That ear muffs cover the ears can become a problem with hot environments, as the heat builds up and can become discomforting for a user.

Another problem with ear muffs is that they lose some of their protection when worn with other PPE, such as with safety glasses.

earplugs or ear muffs

Earplug Benefits

The main advantage of using ear plugs is that they provide much better protection. As they fit directly into the ear canal, they can provide far more protection than basic ear muffs. That means that they are best when you need a lot of protection, such as in a loud workplace like an airport, foundry, or factory.

Earplugs are also easy to carry and fairly light. Given how small they are, they can be kept in specially designed cases that fit into your pockets. Ear muffs, on the other hand, are more difficult to carry and keep safe. They can be cumbersome for some workers.

If you have to wear other kinds of PPE, then earplugs might be the right choice. As earplugs fit comfortably into your ear canal, they can be worn with other PPE. That makes them a good choice for people who also have to wear things like safety glasses and helmets.

Drawbacks of Earplugs

The main drawback of using earplugs is how difficult they can be to fit. They need to be fitted properly to the ear canal for maximum protection, and that can be difficult to guarantee. If an employee is trained on fitting earplugs properly though, then they can consistently provide the necessary protection.

Another problem with using earplugs is that they are difficult, if not impossible, for those with ear infections to wear. Earplugs are not a good fit in those cases as they would likely be too uncomfortable.

No matter what kind of hearing protection you go with, the main factor to consider is how much hearing protection they provide. Hearing protection comes with a “dB” rating which indicates how much noise they reduce. It’s important that you understand how much protection you need. After determining that, you can choose the right earplugs or ear muffs for you.

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Mack's SnoreBlockers Earplugs

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Excellent noise reduction, 32dB Ergonomic shape and low expansion pressure for comfortable fitting Patented x-emboss reduces pressure build-up on the outer ear Unique density structure to maximise wearer comfort ‘x’ grip for easy fingertip removal High visibility lime colour ...
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If you are trying earplugs for the first time, you may well be bewildered by all of the choice. You make ask yourself: Which are the best earplugs for sleeping in? Which are the best earplugs for blocking out snoring? To take the stress out of choosing earplugs for the ...
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Max Earplugs Elite type noise reduction rating of 37db made by Howard Leight 7 pairs supplied in bag ...
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Made by Mack's with super soft foam Perfect for extended wear in situations where extreme comfort is paramount Unique hollow end maximises comfort when sleeping Relief from snoring spouses, noisy neighbours, air travel, etc. #1 Doctor Recommended Brand to get a good night’s sleep when sleeping with a snoring spouse ...
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Moldex Spark Plugs Earplugs

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Excellent 35dB noise-reducing earplugs Contoured so they fit snugly inside the ear canal Great for sleeping in Popular with bikers and industrial workers ...
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Hush Plugz

Hush Plugz Silicone Earplugs – 7 Pairs

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Value for money 7 pair pack Safe, medical grade silicone Easy to fit and remove Ideal for sleeping, relaxing, travelling and studying Also ideal for swimming to reduce infection risk Durable, pocket sized carry case ...
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5, 10 or 20 Pairs of Laser Lite Foam Earplugs Quick, First Class Delivery ...
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Macj's Snore Mufflers

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Ultimate comfort earplug from Mack's Reusable Made in USA by Mack's 6 pairs 22 dB NRR ...
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Sample pack of 13 pairs of Earplugs Specially chosen for male ears Includes 11 Pairs of Foam Earplugs 1 Pair of Wax Earplugs 1 Pair of Silicone Earplugs ...
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Women's Earplugs Sleep Pack 15 different pairs! choose your bag - from 6 colours with fitting instructions includes, foam, wax and silicone earplugs find your prefect pair! ...
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Photo Credit: “View from inside Marshmaster” (Public Domain) by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region