Noise muffs, sometimes called noise reduction ear muffs, contain two tightly fitted ear cups that cover each ear entirely, blocking noise from entering the auditory system. They are best used for intermittent exposure to noise and provide noise reduction as well as durability.
Noise muffs are easy to keep track of and comfortable to wear. Unlike ear plugs, they can be worn in spite of ear infections or impacted earwax.
Studies suggest that noise muffs can provide greater noise reduction than ear plugs, but may make it harder to pick up softer sounds. To alleviate this problem, some noise muffs have built-in electronic communication systems, so that wearers can communicate clearly with others.
Noise muffs are practical for situations with intermittent exposure to noise, such as on a flight line. They’re easy to put on and take off and consistently provide a high level of protection. Ear cup seals can be added to provide extra protection and warmth in cold environments, as well as an added level of comfort.
On the other hand, they can be uncomfortable to wear in hot climates, in which case ear plugs may be a better choice. It’s important to remember that noise muffs block out sound by creating an airtight seal. It may be tempting to stretch out the noise muffs to loosen the seal, but this compromises their effectiveness and exposes the wearer to harmful noise levels that may cause significant hearing damage.
There are two important things to keep in mind when wearing protective noise muffs:
- Headband tightness, and
- Ear cup fit
The headband must be tight to maintain the seal around the head. If the headband tension decreases, the noise reduction will decrease as well.
Fit is equally important. If the ear cups are too large or loose on the head, they cannot create an airtight seal and effectively protect against hazardous noise. Keep in mind that if the noise muffs are too small for the wearer’s head, they may cause discomfort. If they’re too small to cover the entire ear, their protective value can be compromised.