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A Construction Worker


Type of Hearing Protectors

The best type of hearing protection is the kind you’re most comfortable wearing and the one you’re most likely to use.  Many earplugs and hearing protection is available in drugstores, hardware stores and online. Some are available in children’s sizes.  

Not all Personal Ear Protection (PEP) provide the same amount of protection. No hearing protection blocks all sounds.   Check the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of the ear muffs or ear plugs to get an idea of how much noise reduction a type of protection will provide.   The higher the NRR, the you have, the more noise they can block out.

Here are some main types of hearing protection:


Fit directly in the ear canal, earplugs are smaller and range from very inexpensive for disposable to very expensive for custom made reusable 3D printed plugs. Earplugs come in various sizes, colors even shapes.  Types formable foam, pre-molded, canal caps, DIY and custom-made and printed 3D plugs.  


Formable Foam Earplugs

Typically made of soft foam, don’t cost much, are disposable and available in many stores. One inserted these should fit into the ear canal snugly.  

How to Use:

1) Clean hands, 2) roll the 1st earplug with your fingers, 3) pull the top of your ear up and back with your opposite hand. 4) Gently slide the earplug into your ear canal so this is flush with the opening of your ear.  5) Hold the earplug in place 10 to 20 seconds to give it time to expand. 6) Check the fit to be sure the earplug is comfortable and properly inserted.  7) repeat these steps with the 2nd earplug in the other ear.


* To remove earplugs, slowly twist and gently pull out of your ear.   

A photo of Pre-Molded Earplugs

Pre-Molded Earplugs 

Pre-Molded Earplugs are made from plastic, rubber or silicone.  One kind is high fidelity earplugs which have the same effect as turning down the volume on a stereo.  These may be better for movies or live music where you want to protect your hearing and maintain audio quality. 

How to Use:

1) Clean hands 2) pull the top of your ear up and back with your opposite hand 3) use the other hand and while holding the stem, gently slide the earplug into the canal with a rocking motion until you have sealed the ear canal.  4) Check fit in mirror

* To remove earplugs , gently rock them back and forth to break the seal – Earplugs can be cleaned between uses. 

A photo of Do it yourself (DIY) Custom Molded Earplugs

Do it yourself (DIY) Custom Molded Earplugs 

These are the most inexpensive way to have custom fitted earplugs that are molded to the shape of your outer ear/pinna.   These start as a kit of two types of silicones that are combined and pressed into the ear, then after dried, removed for a reusable pair of custom ear plugs .  These have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 22 dB. 

How to Use:

1) Clean hands 2) pull the top of your ear and pop the custom made ear plug into your ear 3) clean after use with gentle soap and water. 

A photo of Custom Made 3D Printed Earplugs

Custom Made and 3D Printed Earplugs 

PepPlugs is trying to bring the cost down for the consumer with 3D scanned and custom made ear protection that is scanned and printed for your specific ear shape and size. These are the most specific and best protection for hearing health and preservation.  Custom Made Plugs are made with the highest quality silicone and plastics.  The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is up to 26 dB.  Can be made in a variety of colors. 

How to Use:

1) Clean hands 2) pull the top of your ear and pop the custom made ear plug into your ear 3) clean after use with gentle soap and water.  4) store in a sealed container to keep most hygienic.   


Protective earmuffs are padded plastic headsets that are placed over the ears with a connecting headband. Earmuffs are easier to use than earplugs and can be used in conjunction with earplugs for maximum protection.   Earmuffs may not work well for people who wear glasses.  

How to Use:

1) Grab each cup of the earmuff, one side in each hand, 2) pull apart and place the band over your head and slowly release cups, making sure they completely cover the ears and aren’t too loose. Some headbands have adjustable bands for better fit. 

Engineer with Headphones

Wearing earmuffs and earplugs together can further reduce sound, which is best for very noisy industrial and manufacturing environments like factories, workshops, shooting, sporting events and airports. 

Useful Links

There are several apps that measure sound levels and indicate what sound levels may be hazardous for you hearing.   

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