Hearing Protection Standards and Choosing the Correct Protection

EU Hearing Protection Directives


Noise-induced hearing loss remains one of the leading dangers in many workplaces. Prolonged exposure to noise levels above 80dB for eight hours a day can eventually lead to deafness.

The relevant European standard governing hearing protection is EN352:2002, with parts for:

  • Part 1: Earmuffs
  • Part 2: Earplugs
  • Part 3: Helmet-Mounted Earmuffs
  • Part 4: Level-Dependent Earmuffs

The standard stipulates that employees working in environments with noise levels between 80-85dB must be supplied with suitable hearing protection.

In environments at or above 85dB, suitable hearing protection must be both supplied and worn.


What is an SNR Value?

Ear protection is given an SNR (Single Number Rating) value, which is an average of the insulation value offered across the three frequency ranges: High, Middle, and Low. As an example, an SNR value of 30dB signals the ear protection would absorb 100dB and reduce it to 70dB.


Howard Leight Matrix and Fusion

Choosing the Correct Earplug

We all have different ear canals, with round, oval, and slit shapes being common. As a result, the shape of the earplug is vital to ensure a comfortable and secure fit. A foam earplug (such as the Howard Leight Matrix) often fills an oval or slit in the ear canal.


Some employees may favour earplugs with a stem (such as Howard Leight Fusion) for easier insertion.


Above all, it is worth remembering that uncomfortable or badly fitting hearing protection is likely to reduce acceptance and limit wear time.


An at-a-glance overview of the Howard Leight range can be found below.

Howard Leight Earplug Size Guide 


How to Properly Insert Earplugs 

1011142 Howard Leight Clarity C1 Earmuff


When choosing suitable earmuffs the danger of over-protection also needs to be considered. The HSE recommends that protectors reducing the level at the ear to below 70dB should be avoided as they can cause difficulties with communication and hearing warning alarms.

Some earmuffs, such as the Howard Leight Clarity C1, feature advanced sound management technology that enhances on-the-job communication through uniform attenuation. Blocking noise while voice, signal, alarm and other high frequencies can be heard more naturally, with less distortion, combating overprotection and worker isolation.


For further advice, please contact us at sheffield.sales@ardenwinch.com or telephone us on 0114 243 3755.