In This Article:
- Top Ear Protection for Work
- Ear plugs for an Industrial Setting
- Do I Need Hearing Protection at Work?
- Worker Safety Earplug Reviews
- Other High-Quality Work Ear Plugs
- Industrial Use Ear Plug Buying Guide
- What is the best hearing protection for work?
- Are there any ear plugs that block all noise?
- Which ear plugs block the most noise?
- What earplugs do construction workers use?
- Other Ear Protection Options:
We engage in many activities that are harmful to our hearing. For us, it is our profession. Commercial, factory, industrial and agricultural workers are regularly exposed to loud noise as a part of their job. Many recreational activities also put our hearing at risk. So we’ve put together a list of hearing protection for industrial settings and the safety of workers!
The best earplugs for work on our list all have one thing in common; they are very good at the purpose they are designed for. Whether blocking out the maximum noise for factory workers or in another industrial setting, these earplugs do their job well.
Top Ear Protection for Work
Ear plugs for an Industrial Setting
High NRR Foam Earplugs
Industrial earplugs are designed for use in a professional work environment such as a factory. They are typically the best foam earplugs for NRR, having an NRR of 32 or 33db, the highest NRR earplugs possible. In addition, industrial earplugs are designed to be disposable and purchased in high quantities.
They are made from soft, latex-free, polyurethane foam. The lower-end versions are usually simple cylinders, while the higher-end models have a tapered design for comfort in your ear canal. In addition, these may have a string that attaches the two earplugs. This is done to wind up tumbling into equipment that could damage if one falls out.
These will generally come in some very bright colors as well. But, again, this isn’t an on-the-job fashion statement. Instead, the bright colors assist in safety checks, ensuring that everyone on the job site is wearing their hearing protection and complying with the site safety regulations.
Most of the products we have shared today are foam, and we stand by the quality and safety of this product; they are the best plugs to block out the loudest noise in work environments.
Reusable Silicone Ear Plugs
If you are looking for something less disposable than foam earplugs, something you can continue to use over time, reusable silicone earplugs are what you are after. We have also shared a couple of these silicone ear plugs below. These ear plugs can be easily washed and last a long time.
These are generally very good at blocking loud sounds but are also available with a lower NRR when you need to hear more. They work with safety glasses and fit comfortably in your ear canal.
Weekend activities like mowing the lawn can also exceed the safe noise threshold. Even concerts or professional sports carry risks, as noise levels routinely exceed 100 decibels (dB). You can use a pair of silicone earplugs for more than work; there is noise everywhere.
*We haven’t mentioned ear muffs in this article, but look at the best earmuffs here.
Do I Need Hearing Protection at Work?
Worker hearing protection is a must-have. Knowing how typical sound exposure is in your work environment is important because it lets you know how much hearing protection you require. Your safety officer should provide adequate hearing protection any time it’s needed. If you feel enough noise is being made, consult your safety officer if no ear protection has been provided. If there is high-decibel noise at work, you must wear hearing protection; it’s just as important as other safety gear.
Any sound over 85db can damage hearing. The higher the noise level above that, the greater the chance of hearing damage, leading to permanent hearing loss in the long term. So the louder the noises you will be exposed to, the greater the hearing protection you need. Hearing protection is measured in Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), listed in dB (decibels) of reduction.
So if you are moving the lawn and the sound is 100 dB, and your hearing protection has an NRR of 20dB, the sound reaching your ears would be 80 decibels, within the safe threshold.
There are many different high-quality earplugs designed for different purposes with sufficient noise reduction; let’s take a more in-depth look at them so you can prevent hearing loss at work.
Worker Safety Earplug Reviews
Hearing protection is an important part of your safety gear. Check out these great options below.
IsoTunes Pro Industrial Earbuds
These reusable earplugs are one of the best hearing protection options for workers of many types. The soft foam material earplugs provide ear protection from loud noises passively and allow you to play music and take phone calls while protecting hearing from excessive noise.
The noise-cancelling ear plugs also provide hearing protection from loud noise electronically. These is great safety gear for factory workers, the construction site, working with loud equipment and more.
These are electronic earbuds that look like reusable earplugs, certified for occupational safety requirements. This hearing protector can play music and audio with pristine sound quality and will also block noise levels at 30 dB NRR. This is a top pick when looking at the best earplugs for factory work.
Walker's Silencer Bluetooth
This list wouldn’t be complete without offering one noise-cancelling model with Bluetooth. Yes, with Bluetooth, you can listen to music, take calls, and enjoy intelligent noise-cancelling.
They provide some passive noise reduction but block X decibels with the electronic noise reduction enabled. These plugs are not safety certified but are trusted by many contractors to listen to music, take calls and provide hearing protection while at work. Check with your employer to see if they are the right fit.
This hearing protection provides noise canceling of loud noises, with amplification of low sounds. These are one of the best earplugs for industrial use because they are high-vis and have great sound quality. 3M hearing protection products are well-known safety gear for the construction site.
3M Tekk Disposable Ear plugs
Not only are 3M Tekk the best earplugs for factory workers on Amazon, but they are also the best-selling earplugs in the world. They are designed with an NRR of 29, which means they are appropriate for light industrial applications such as heavy machinery noise or equipment such as mowing the lawn or a saw. They are made from slow-recovery foam that gives you plenty of time to position them in the ear canal before they expand properly.
They have a bright orange color for visibility and safety checks and are flame resistant for those working with arc-flash potential. Unfortunately, these are only available for bulk purchase, so if you want a couple of pairs of earplugs, these may not be the option for you, but if you need to outfit a workplace with hearing protection or want enough to make sure you always have some on hand at home at all times these are an outstanding option.
Howard Leight Laser Lite High Visibility - Best Foam Earplugs
Howard Leight is the second biggest name (but our favorite plug) in hearing protection for the workplace behind 3M. Their expertise in hearing protection shines through with these earplugs.
These are made of smooth slow recovery foam and have a contoured “T” shape that allows easier insertion and long-term wear. The wings on the end also allow for easy removal. The memory foam is designed to fit nearly every user, so they should give you a comfortable fit unless you have narrow ear canals. In addition, this hearing protection is high-visibility for safety considerations.
The Laser Lite earplugs offer a robust NRR of 32db, which is only one less than the maximum 33db of the world’s best ear plugs in terms of maximum hearing protection. These earplugs are appropriate for heavier industrial uses such as factories, oil and gas, and welding. These are only available for bulk purchase but are affordable even at bulk purchase volumes. Pairs are individually packaged in a polybag for easy storage and transport.
Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs
Decibullz Earplugs are well-known as the best custom-molded ear plugs, come in many colors and are very easy to use. A noise reduction rating of 31 decibels provides adequate hearing protection to prevent hearing loss.
The thermoplastic molded earpiece and memory foam ear tips provide the best hearing protection and make them ideal earplugs for work.
In addition, since these fit your ears perfectly, they are more comfortable over some foam plugs for long periods. You can learn more about them in our review – click here.
Eargasm High Fidelity Ear plugs
Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs are designed specifically for musicians, making them great reusable earplugs for workplaces with light noise. They offer a 12db noise reduction rating to protect your hearing when you still need outstanding clarity. They achieve that clarity with a patent-pending attenuation filter that allows some sound to pass through.
This hearing protection gives a full range of sound at a lower volume level and prevents any of the muffled effects you get at lower sound ranges with foam earplugs. These have a triple flange design and come with two shell sizes to ensure that you can customize them to get a perfect fit.
They also have a custom removal tab for easier gripping while removing from the ears. While designed for musicians, they can be used for ear protection at work but are not safety certified. Check with your employer.
The Ear Buddy Premium Soft Foam Earplugs
If you want the NRR and design of a pair of industrial ear plugs, but without the requirement to make a bulk purchase of 200 pairs, then the Ear Buddy Premium Soft Foam Earplugs may be for you. These provide an outstanding NRR of 32, and they are made of extra-soft foam that is the most comfortable on the market and appropriate for everything from mowing the lawn to operating loud equipment.
Should you want to use these at work, they come in a bright orange color for easy identification in the ear. Ear Buddy goes the extra step of offering a 60-day question-asked money-back guarantee. Although judging by the over 500 5-star reviews on Amazon, there is an excellent chance you won’t need it. For the same protection, the pros look to the Ear Buddy Premium Soft Foam Earplugs for your hearing protection needs.
Live Music HearSafe Silicone Ear plugs
If you still need to let some loud noise through, then Live Music HearSafe Earplugs will be the best ear plugs on our top 5 list. These use the same type of filtering technology found on the Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs reviewed above but with an overall level of protection that is much more appropriate for environments with loud equipment.
This set comes with two different filter levels at an NRR of 23 and 29db. This means you’ll still get the clarity of other earplugs designed for musicians but with the noise level turned farther down. These have a comfortable triple flange design, which should fit comfortably in almost any ear. In addition, they are clear, which means you won’t stand out or look awkward while wearing them and listening to your favorite band. They also come with a convenient carrying case that can attach to your keyring to ensure you don’t lose track of them while going to or from the show.
Decibel Defense Earmuffs for the Construction Site
Workers sometimes need hearing protection that physically protects their ears. Ear muffs fit over your entire ear, which in some cases could be considered safer. Another option is to wear ear muffs over ear plugs to get as much hearing protection as possible.
Decibel Defense ear muffs are passive hearing protection with 37 dB NRR, using foam ear cushions that fit well with safety glasses. These are essential safety gear for many loud environments.
Mack's Pillow Soft
These silicone putty earplugs are great for sensitive ears and protect hearing in noisy environments. These are reusable earplugs but have a shorter life than silicone flange plugs. These semi-insert earplugs mold to your outer ear canal. You need to ensure these earplugs are certified safety gear for your workplace. While also marketed for sleeping, these are primarily a swimming earplug. They are the most popular swimming earplug on Amazon as of the time of writing.
Quietband Headband Ear plugs
These are comfortable and easy solutions from Howard Leight. The semi-insert earplugs apply just enough pressure for memory foam ear tips to fit snugly. These are easy to find as they are high-vis safety gear. The earplugs provide proper hearing protection to prevent hearing damage.
Other High-Quality Work Ear Plugs
Flents Quiet Please
Industrial Use Ear Plug Buying Guide
To determine the best earplugs for you, you need to start with what kind of work you will need them for. For example, earplugs designed for a commercial food worker are different from those designed for someone in a car factory. While there are many crossovers, they are often designed with a specific use case in mind; even saying this, you can use the same earplugs in many situations; it’s just good to know what you’re up against.
Noise Reduction Rating Required
The ultimate goal is to prevent hearing loss, depending on the environment you are working in, and the noise reduction rating needed. Therefore, the first thing you always look at when determining the best earplugs for you is how much hearing protection you need.
For musicians, you may only need a slight reduction, around 12db. While for light industrial or recreational uses, you will need an NRR in the 20db or above range. If you work in a deafening environment, you may need near the maximum protection of 32-33db.
Ear Plug Sizes
Once you have determined how much protection you need next, you must find the most comfortable design. Hearing protection is typically worn for hours and sometimes as much as a full day. Earplugs that put too much pressure on the ear canal and cause pain can be a serious annoyance.
When you wear hearing protection, including earplugs, it’s important to have the proper hearing protection size. Without the correct size, harmful noises can enter the ear canal.
Noise-Cancelling Ear Plugs
Noise cancelling ear plugs use electronics to reduce loud noises. They provide more situational awareness and many more features than disposable earplugs. They are incredibly comfortable and provide maximum hearing protection in environments with sudden loud noises.
If using an electronic ear plug the battery life is an important aspect. When the battery life runs out, these options will still provide passive protection, but without the power they won’t have the extra features like Bluetooth.
Ear Plug Features
Finally, look at other features you may need. Do you want brightly colored earplugs that you can see in a coworker’s ear? Or would you prefer clear so that they are not noticeable in your own ears? Perhaps you need a tab to make the earplugs easier to remove or a string to link them together in case one falls out. Maybe they need to be waterproof, and NRR isn’t a consideration.
All these factors and more may influence your decision. Knowing your needs and the variety of product features will let you focus on the best earplugs for you.
What is the best hearing protection for work?
The best hearing protection for work is a set of electronic noise-cancelling ear plugs. Unless your employer requires over-the-ear protection, in which case ear muffs are needed. The comfortable ear cushions on ear muffs may be your preference.
There are many types of hearing protection products that meet occupational safety requirements. the best hearing protection option is what works for your situation, i.e. using other safety gear, employer requirements, need for situational awareness, etc.
Are there any ear plugs that block all noise?
There are no hearing protection options which block all noise. The highest noise reduction rating earplugs have an NRR of 33 dB passive protection. Soundproof earplugs don’t exist. Because the bone transmits vibration into the eardrum, the sound is still heard. If one wants earplugs that minimize noise they have several choices.
Foam earplugs, filters ear plugs, or custom-made options can all provide the best noise reduction rating you need.
Which ear plugs block the most noise?
Low-tech earplugs are still widely used in many applications to block noise. For ear protection to prevent hearing loss, foam plugs fitted correctly will provide the proper hearing protection from excessive noise.
NRR 33dB represents the highest noise reduction rating on an earplug currently available. One thing to note is that SNR is used by Europeans, whereas NRR can be found everywhere worldwide, like Canada and the USA.
The best hearing protection and highest noise reduction rating would be combining noise-canceling earplugs and earmuffs.
What earplugs do construction workers use?
The 3M Peltor EEP-100 are smart earplugs. These are noise-cancelling earplugs designed specifically for contractors, incorporating an additional mic inside and a miniature external speaker.
Other Ear Protection Options:
Shooters or hunters face a hearing risk every time they fire their weapons. Weekend activities like mowing the lawn can also exceed the safe noise threshold. Events such as concerts or professional sports carry risks, as noise levels routinely exceed 100 decibels (dB).
It’s important to have an idea of just how noisy the activity you will be participating in will be because it lets you know how much hearing protection you will require.
Electronic Ear Plugs for Shooting
There are passive and electronic earplugs that are perfect for gun enthusiasts. These are great for the shooting range and while you are out hunting. Although passive earplugs provide the protection you need, many shooters prefer an electronic earplug that amplifies low-decibel sounds while blocking out the dangerous decibel level of loud gunshots with noise-canceling.
Musicians Earplugs (High Fidelity)
Musicians have a unique hearing protection challenge. They need to lower the volume of the noise level they hear just enough to be below the safe hearing threshold but without losing the clarity of the sound. The muffled, distorted sound that many earplugs cause, especially in lower frequency sound ranges, can make it difficult for musicians and singers to perform. As a result, when musicians look at the best earplugs, they decide primarily on their audio clarity and the use of high-fidelity speakers.
The best earplugs for musicians will provide less hearing protection than other types of earplugs, often only around 12 dB of protection. This is too low for many activities but works great in the 90-100 dB range. In addition, they provide clarity through a small opening that runs through the center of the earplug to allow some sound to pass through. The result is more “turning down the volume” than the complete sound-blocking normally associated with earplugs.
Concert Ear plugs
Concert earplugs are very close in design to earplugs for musicians; once again, clarity is key to the best earplugs for concerts. However, these will typically have a slightly higher NRR. Concertgoers can have the volume turned down a bit more since they don’t need to perform and will generally enjoy more protection.
The average musician’s earplugs will be around an NRR of 12, typically in the low 20s. They will still utilize the filtering technology that goes into the musician’s earplugs, letting a small amount of sound through to lower the sound level rather than blocking it outright.
Swimming Ear plugs
Swimming earplugs aren’t designed to keep sound out; they keep water out to prevent the swimmer’s ear. Swimmers ear is caused when water does not fully drain from the ear and results in irritation or infection. It can be excruciating, and prevention is key. The best earplugs for swimming are designed from soft moldable material that custom forms to the outer ear to create a water-tight seal.
Since swimmers ear often affects children, many of these will come in bright colors or packaging that appeals to kids. These are sometimes designed to float for easy retrieval and prevent them from clogging a pool filter if they fall out. The most common material used for these earplugs is moldable silicone; however, all-natural beeswax alternatives are also available for those needing an all-natural or hypoallergenic alternative.
Snoring is one of the most difficult design problems in hearing protection. Imagine trying to drift off peacefully to sleep with a chainsaw running 6 inches from your head, and you will have some understanding of the sleep challenges a person who lives with a loud snorer faces. The best earplugs for snoring provide a high level of NRR to block out as much of the sound as possible while being reasonably comfortable.
These earplugs won’t focus as much on comfort as sleeping earplugs just designed for ambient noise, but they will still consider comfort while designing for the highest NRR possible. The world’s best earplugs for snoring are the ones that block out that wild ox braying next to you while still giving you enough comfort to be able to sleep.
Sleeping Ear plugs
Trying to get some rest can be miserable for light sleepers. The smallest noise can wake them up, completely disrupting their sleep cycle. Unfortunately, many earplugs cause discomfort that can also prevent a good night’s sleep. The world’s best earplugs for sleeping are those that give you an outstanding level of comfort and enough protection from drowning out the ambient noise around you.
Typically you don’t need much protection for sleeping, just enough to dull the nighttime noises around you. As a result, sleeping earplugs tend to focus more on the comfort side of the equation. In addition, many of them are made from moldable material that forms on the outside of the ear, so no pressure is placed on the inner ear canal. Others designed for placement in the ear canal are often shorter than the average earplug to accommodate side sleepers.
Earplugs for Motorcyclists
While on the motorcycle, air rushing past through the helmet can create serious pressure on your eardrums and eventually damage the inner ear. Not to mention how loud a Harley is! Motorcyclists have the opportunity to find earplugs that are suited for motorcycles and other noisy toys. Check out our reviews of motorcycle earplugs.
Ear Plugs for Studying
Sometimes roommates or fellow students won’t be gracious enough to keep it down. In these cases, the best earplugs for studying are needed. Drown-out-loud roommates and obnoxious visitors with a reusable set to last all semester.
Read about the best hearing protection overall here: https://doctear.com/best-hearing-protection/.
There are a lot of great earplug options out there for your needs and budget. This review has given you a guide that you can use to hone in on the product that is right for you. Just remember to focus on protection and comfort. If you get a product that doesn’t provide the protection you need, your hearing could still be at risk.
Likewise, if the earplugs are too uncomfortable to wear, they won’t do you any good. However, if you properly consider your needs and follow the guide I’ve given you today, you should be able to find the right product with the right fit at the right price and enjoy long-term hearing protection.
Gun Range Hearing Protection