Essay about Sound Localization and Hearing Protection Devices

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Introduction A hearing protection device (HPD) is often used as a protective measure in a workplace environment when the sound levels of that environment cannot be decreased and such levels pose a threat to the hearing of workers. An HPD is a safety device worn by individual’s to protect his or her hearing from the harmful effects of sound (Berger, 2003). A variety of occupational environments are known to produce high levels of noise, including factories and military operations. Individuals employed in these professions may be required to wear HPDs to reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss. However, certain situations in these work environments require the listener to also be able to hear low-level sounds for safety reasons. …show more content…
The three main styles of HPDs are earplugs, earmuffs, and semi-aural devices. Special protectors, such as level-dependent hearing protectors, are less commonly used but also have an effect on sound localization. Earplugs are placed into the ear canal in order to block the entrance of sound by forming a hermetic seal. Earplugs are better suited for longer use for those individuals who are exposed to noise throughout their workday, and provide a significant amount of attenuation. However, the effectiveness of the earplugs depends on proper insertion, and requires training employees on how to correctly place them in the canal. The level of attenuation can vary depending on how well the earplug is fit, as well as the motivation of the employee to wear them consistently (Berger, 2003). Earmuffs, on the other hand, cover the entire outer ear and provide an air-tight seal against the head in order to block the entrance of sound. Earmuffs are preferred for individuals who are not exposed to a consistent level of noise throughout the day. Rather, they are better suited for shorter periods of high level noise during the workday. Due to the size and location on the head, they also may not be beneficial for employees that must work in smaller, more confined spaces. However, the level of attenuation is more consistent than earplugs, as the employees do not require extensive training on the use of earmuffs as they are generally one-sized devices (Berger, 2003).
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