Both in the workplace and in our private lives we often deal with too many “decibels” (during concerts and festivals, in the cinema). Earplugs or protective head phones can protect our ears against irrevocable hearing damage.
At European level there are legal obligations on the quality of personal hearing protection devices: directive 89/686/EEC for the individual protection devices. According to this directive, all earplugs must be able to reduce the noise to such an extent, that under no circumstances the perceived sound levels are higher than the sound limits for employees. The standard EN 352-2 harmonised under the directive, translates this requirement to minimum noise reduction values for earplugs. E.g., for the frequency range of around 4 kHz, earplugs must be able to reduce the noise by at least 12 dB(A). For this sound frequency the ear is most sensitive.
According to a study of 'Test-Achats'/'Test-Aankoop' (Test Gezondheid/Test-Santé number 99, 2010), not all earplugs have a good quality. For someone who only goes to a concert every now and then, 'Test Gezondheid' recommends disposable earplugs. For regular concertgoers, tailor made earplugs are a better alternative. When you order tailor made earplugs, do not hesitate to request for a pressure test yourself and to ask for an explanation about the correct use. It is highly recommended to put in the earplugs cautiously, because it determines the efficacy and quality of the noise reduction.
The check on quality of the earplugs belongs to the tasks of the FPS Economy, within the framework of the surveillance on the quality and safety of products.