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ISHN Article: Behind the Numbers, Understanding Hearing Protector Ratings and Fit Testing

Numbers and ratings can help us understand things, but often one number does not tell the whole story. Take for instance the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) and Personal Attenuation Rating (PAR). Both ratings can be used when trying to determine if a hearing protector is appropriate for a worker, but they are different. And while each are measurements of hearing protector attenuation, they are based on different measurement protocols and yield different information. Using both numbers can help to select hearing protectors that can be offered to workers as well as help identify which hearing protector a worker could use most effectively for the given noise exposures on the job.

We encourage you to learn more about understanding these hearing protector attenuation ratings and the respective applications of each by reading our article in ISHN magazine, “Behind the Numbers: Hearing Protectors” by 3M Personal Safety Division’s Laurie Wells, Au.D. and Carly Engels Johnston.

This article also explores the benefits of hearing protection fit testing, including using this process as an integral part of an effective hearing conservation program to understand:

  • How the hearing protector fits a worker,
  • The attenuation the hearing protector provides and if under- or over-protection may be occurring,
  • That the worker can position the hearing protection device properly and when additional training is needed,
  • How to help identify potential situations where noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) may occur and take steps to reduce the risk.

You will also learn about why not all fit-testing systems are the same and how complying with ANSI/ASA S12.71-2018, the first standard to provide specifications about fit-testing systems, can help promote greater accuracy and transparency in reporting fit test results.

To learn more about an ANSI/ASA complaint fit-testing system and different types of hearing protection available that may help your workforce, please do not hesitate to reach out to our safety specialists today for assistance.

Read the February 2020 ISHN magazine hearing protection article here.