3M Peltor Hearing Protection
While many workplaces aren’t noisy, there are a lot of workplaces – very important ones – that are. Working in landscaping, manufacturing, construction, with airplanes at the airport – as well as certain military and police duties will put one square in the path of decibel ranges that OSHA and other agencies rightfully declare harmful. Starting in the 80-90dBA range, it’s recommended that hearing protection be used to protect one’s hearing from permanent damage, which can happen in a short amount of time – as little as a few minutes.
To give you an idea of what sounds are within a given range, it’s helpful to consider a few examples. ANSI puts concrete mixers and haul trucks at the beginning of the protection range with bulldozers, concrete saws and jackhammers hitting the 100 dBA range. The Canada Safety Council has similar findings. They also put jet plane takeoffs at around 140 and gunfire at about 150dBA. The American Speech-Hearing Association (ASHA) puts small caliber firearms like .22 caliber at 140dBA while bigger bore rifles hit in excess of 175dBA. If you’re interested in decibel ranges for other things, there’s a really comprehensive list here. Many of these you might think you can shrug off or may not be that bad, but the sound is well within the danger zone.
Once you’re over the level where hearing protection is advised, not only do you want to do it to be compliant with workplace regulations, you want to protect yourself and those working for you if they’re encountering loud noises in the workplace. After all, you don’t want an OSHA violation and you don’t want people losing their hearing from something that could have been avoided with a small investment in PPE. But that can get a little complicated. What PPE should one get? Is there something that can protect hearing on a jobsite? Assuming you find hearing protection that will work, how do you allow workers to hear each other and/or be able to hear other important sounds? Unfortunately, most conventional hearing protection blocks it all. Thankfully, there’s unconventional hearing protection made by 3M that can block harmful sounds and allow you to hear what’s important at the worksite giving you situational awareness.
Under 3M’s Peltor product line of hearing protection, there are numerous high-tech solutions that allow one to both block out harmful sounds AND hear important communication or important sounds on a job site. The Peltor series offers multiple solutions including the use of special microphones that block harmful sounds from entering the ear, but also allow sounds in. They work by intercepting sounds over a certain decibel range and blocking or muffling them while sounds in the safe range are allowed through. There are a few that also allow radio communication thus allowing you to keep in touch with others. All of these options allow one to be aware of their surroundings while protecting their ears, the only trouble is which one to choose?
The 3M Peltor series offers hearing protection in the form of something as basic as your standard all-muffling earmuffs (in pink too) like those in the X series. However the line is better known for their electronic technologies that do more than just block sound. The 3M Tactical earplug (Tep-100 and TEP-200) are small earplugs that use a smart microphone to block loud noises while also allowing things like conversation and other noises in. They’re a great option for when it’s hot or if you don’t need the entire ear covered. Some user reviews have expressed some concerns over using the TEP-100 as a tactical earplug (though tactical training could be a great option), however even those users express that they’re great for use at the firing range and in construction work. They could potentially also be useful for hunting, but it would depend on the hunting you were doing and the preferences of the user. Any sort of walking in the woods would probably not be as good as sitting in a deer stand or duck boat. The earplugs are rechargeable for up to 16 hours of use (after a few hours they time out and need to be turned back on). All in all, a great option for someone who uses hearing protection a lot, but doesn’t want something too cumbersome.
The Peltor series also includes similar technology in a full earmuff style and with or without a microphone for talking into. This is where things get a little overwhelming as there are a lot of different configurations and possibilities. There’s not even just one such type under the Peltor banner, there’s the Peltor SporTac, ProTac, Tactical XP, LiteCom Plus, ComTac and SWAT-TAC and within those series, there’s a lot of variation in how you configure those. This makes knowing the features you need for the environment you’re in a critical component of choosing your hearing protection.
You can dig a bit more in-depth into the various options with military, SWAT/Military and construction/industrial and if you identify what you want there, we can help you order it. Most should be able to block loud sounds while allowing safe sound levels to be heard, or otherwise allow you to use radio communication. The earmuff style protectors, in particular the ComTac and LiteCom series have the ability to be worn on your head like normal or clipped to a combat or construction helmet. They grip firmly making a tight seal to block sounds. Some feature detachable microphones, while others come with pre-programmed channels and sub-channel for radio communication while still more allow for AM/FM radio connection. The previously linked categories break down all of the intricacies and features in greater detail, so be sure to consult those before ordering if you’re unsure.
Aside from the 3M catalogs, you can use the following features to help you decide, at least between ComTac III and ComTac IV, both of which allow situational awareness through the use of microphones. First, the ComTac III uses the traditional earmuffs whereas the ComTac IV is used in conjunction with earplugs and is great for warmer climates. Second, with the ComTac III you can choose how it’s worn whether that’s the traditional headphone style, neckband style and the ARC attachment for use with a helmet. The third consideration is how and if you’ll be using radio communications. The options for ComTac include: one or two unique 2-way radios, single comm with the NATO U/174 and more. Fourth, there are four colors that are available and there’s two letters in the part number that indicate the color – (SV) Black) (CY) coyote brown, (GN) olive drab, (FG) light, foliage green (not available in COMTAC IV). Lastly, if you’re using the radio feature, you’ll need to know the manufacturer and model of the radio aw as the fact that the ComTac series is only compatible with NATO wired adapters that have model numbers ending in -02. The ComTac series is one of our best sellers and they can be used as easily in construction as they can in military applications.That’s a lot of options to protect your hearing, and they all have a lot of features that border upon an overwhelming selection, but in the end it’s to make sure that you have as close to the exact fit of protection that you need for a given situation. Despite the cornucopia of options, the high tech features all operate on the same basic concept, which is, the hearing protector blocks the ear canal either by ear plug or muff. Then a microphone receives the sound and allows safe sound levels through while blocking sounds at dangerous decibel levels. By doing this, they protect while also allowing you to be aware of your surroundings via sound. Definitely a great innovation for safety giving you the best of both worlds!