Best Ear Protection for Construction: 10 Noise-Canceling Options

Best ear protection for construction
Jobsite
By Max Watt | 4 minute read

Protecting your workers' hearing is crucial at construction sites. It's just as important as keeping track of their hours. Loud noise can damage hearing, and construction workers are especially at risk. In fact, 16% of those exposed to high noise levels have hearing loss in both ears. This can lead to tinnitus and other problems.

Loud noise is a big risk on construction sites, especially without proper protection. It's not just about how loud the noise is, but how long you're exposed to it. The American Academy of Audiology rates tools such as jackhammers to be among the most dangerous regarding sound levels.

We've reviewed 12 of the best ear protection options for construction. There are many different options, each with drawbacks and strong suits, so let’s dive in. By the end, you'll have a better idea of what's out there and can make the best choice for your team.

The best ear protection for construction

1. Professional safety ear muffs by Decibel Defense

Decibel Defense has designed highly ergonomic ear defense mechanisms in their professional safety ear muffs. 

Key features

  • Thick padding (six pads)
  • Adjustable arms
  • Ergonomic
  • NRR of 37 dB

Advantages

  • The thick padding protects the ear from potentially damaging decibels while also being very comfortable for the wearer. 
  • Its six pads provide good airflow too, as do its arms, which allow you to adjust them. This means they are versatile and can be worn by the entire team, making them a good selection if you have a team of varying head sizes.
  • They have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 37 dB, meaning they can provide the right protection in many environments of different loudness levels. 
  • They are also made from durable materials and will last a long time. 

Disadvantages

The foam padding within the ear cups will need to be adjusted before your team members can use them. This means that each crew member will have to do so. Plus, they are among the more expensive options when ordering many of them.

2. 3M Peltor X1A over-the-head earmuffs

The 3M's X-Series earmuffs are packed with new tech for comfort, style, and safety.

Key features

  • Dielectric features
  • Adjustable
  • 2x Color options (black, green)
  • NRR of 22 dB

Advantages

  • The headband is insulated, protecting the wearer against electrical hazards, making it good for sites with ongoing electrical work. 
  • The headband is comfortable for long periods of wear and can fit individual users.

Disadvantages

The NRR is 22 dB, so they are only suitable for low to moderate noise levels. This might be all that’s needed, but it doesn’t provide the right ear protection for all construction sites. They aren’t resistant to moisture, either.

3. Howard Leight VS130 VeriShield

They've ditched the one-size-fits-all approach and crafted ear cups that adjust to fit a wider range of heads, even those with hearing aids.

Key features

  • Light
  • Flexible
  • Memory foam padding
  • NRR of 30 dB

Advantages

  • More extendable than the previous models, the VS130 is fitted with memory foam. This results in comfortable wear that adjusts to the wearer. 
  • It's more durable than the L3, and the price is about the same as the Decibel Defense ear muffs.

Disadvantages

The padding wears out rather quickly, meaning it has to be replaced regularly. For big companies, this could prove an unnecessary cost.

4. 3M WorkTunes Connect + gel ear cushions

3M WorkTunes Connect combines comfortable ear protection with high-fidelity Bluetooth audio, letting you take calls and stream your music while shielding your ears from noisy workdays. 

Key Features

  • Bluetooth streaming abilities
  • Lightweight
  • Built-in rechargeable battery
  • NRR of 23 dB

Advantages

The 3M WorkTunes earmuffs are highly comfortable (due to their gel cushions) and wireless, allowing users to not only protect their hearing but also stream music, phone calls, or other entertainment.

Disadvantages

It’s been reported by some that rechargeable batteries wear out quickly. This might not be a problem if you are using them for electronic hearing protection for construction only, so it depends on your needs.

Best Ear Protection for Construction: 10 Noise-Canceling Options

5. Walker's Razor Tacti-Grip earmuffs

Walker's RAZOR earmuffs grip tight with their "Tacti-Grip" headband, so you can move freely without worries. No more slipping or muffling, just perfect grip and crisp audio.

Key features

  • Battery powered
  • Variety of colors
  • Bluetooth
  • NRR of 23dB

Advantages

Bluetooth might not be the top priority for construction ear protection, but it’s a useful perk that can help your staff multi-task and listen in on meetings.

Disadvantages

These ear muffs have an NRR of 23 dB, making them useful for low to moderate construction settings but not for high noise levels. Plus, they are battery-powered, which means stocking and replacing batteries as well as the ear muffs.

6. Luiswell reusable silicone earplugs

The reusable earplugs are made of high-grade silicone material. They are reusable, waterproof, and washable.

Key features

  • Ear plugs
  • Comfortable
  • Cheap ($9.99 per unit)
  • NRR 26 dB

Advantages

  • The more conventional earplugs are cheap, comfortable, and have a sufficient NRR for construction sites with low to moderate sound levels. 
  • They are comfortable, easy to use, and small, making them simple to put on and take off.

Disadvantages

The NRR is only suited to low-to-moderate sites and won’t be enough for louder construction environments. Also, their small size could mean they get lost a lot.

7. 3M Pro-Grade noise-reducing earmuff

It helps protect against harmful noises that are at 85 dB and above

Key features

  • Protects from 85dB noises (harmful)
  • NRR 30dB

Advantages

The 3M Pro-Grade earmuffs are terrific at taking away damaging noises and creating an environment where sound is not destructive.

Disadvantages

Users claim that the headband ruins the experience by retracting. This causes tension for the wearer. Plus, there are no additional perks, like Bluetooth.

8. Howard Leight MAX-1 NR33 foam earplugs box

The bell shape matches the contours of your inner ear to ensure maximum noise reduction and hearing protection.

Key features

  • Cheap (200 units for $34.83)
  • NRR 33dB
  • Disposable

Advantages

  • The Max-1 foam earplugs are very cheap and have a high NRR of 33 dB, making them suitable for environments with higher noise levels. 
  • For less than $40, you can get 200 units, which is more than enough for your team. This is a good option if you want the basics covered.

Disadvantages

They are as basic and simple as you can go regarding hearing protection for construction sites. There are no special perks like Bluetooth (of course) or adjustment abilities that most ear muffs are fitted with.

9. Howard Leight by Honeywell earmuff

These earplugs keep you protected from hazardous noise while also connected to your surroundings.

Key features

  • Custom-fit abilities and folding
  • Snap-in ear cushions
  • Battery powered
  • NRR of 22

Advantages

  • Its custom fit and folding abilities make it likely to fit most heads, and its snap-in cushions are easy to replace. 
  • You will be able to plug your phone into it as well and stream music, entertainment, or calls.

Disadvantages

A single unit of these earmuffs costs $70, making it a very pricey option unless you have a small team on modest projects. It also requires batteries, so it is not the most cost-efficient option.

10. 3M PELTOR EEP-100

The 3M™ PELTOR™ EEP-100 are wireless earplugs that protect your hearing and let you hear important sounds in noisy places. 

Key features

  • Rechargeable, 16-hour battery
  • Compact, ergonomic
  • NRR of 50%

Advantages

  • The good news is that they cancel out the damaging decibels and then some. 
  • They also come with streaming capabilities and are super compact and comfy. This means that hard hats and other protective gear are not going to inhibit them. 
  • The weather-resistant materials mean they can be used in a wide variety of settings.

Disadvantages

They cancel out a lot of noise, so when the site is in full operation, it might be difficult to talk to your coworkers.

How to test ear protection

There are different ways to test ear protection, depending on the level of accuracy and resources available. Here are two options:

Self-fit check

Speech test: Put on the ear protection and speak softly. If you can hear yourself clearly, the fit is probably not good.

Cupping test: Place your hands over your ears with the ear protection on. If the sound level changes significantly, the fit may need improvement.

Leak test: Place a sound source near your ear and move your head around. If you hear the sound clearly, the fit is not good.

Sound level test

  • Use a sound level meter to measure the noise level in your environment.
  • Put on your ear protection and measure the sound level again.
  • The difference between the two measurements is the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of your ear protection.

Ready to choose your team’s next ear protection?

All in all, there are many choices when it comes to the best ear protection for construction sites, and your site’s unique needs are a factor. It’s important to consider all of this when thinking of how to grow your construction company in 2024 and beyond, as this planning will keep your team’s well-being in check.

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