Foam earplugs are perfect for the worksite. They’re comfortable, convenient, and you can buy them in bulk so you don’t have to worry about losing them. And with the variety of sizes and shapes out there, you can easily find the perfect fit for your ears.
However, if worn incorrectly foam earplugs become totally useless.
What are foam earplugs?
Foam earplugs are small, foam plugs that mute sound by creating a block in your ear canal. Typically these are made from memory foam, allowing for a comfortable seal. When properly used, foam earplugs should muffle high-pitched noises, while allowing lower-pitched noises, like voices, through, allowing you to converse easily with co-workers on the worksite.
How to insert foam earplugs
Whatever brand or type you choose, the most important part of your earplugs is how you wear them. Too often, new workers try to just stuff their earplugs into their ears and think that it’s protecting them from hearing damage. But foam earplugs are not like ear muffs, that can simply be placed over the ears and depended on to work. Instead, foam earplugs require a certain method or insertion to ensure your ears are protected. The method is an easy, three-step process: roll, pull and hold.
The first step is to roll the earplug lengthwise with your fingers until it is long, thin and easily fits into your ear canal. This can be done by rolling it between your thumb and finger, or between your palms.
This part may feel strange, but it’s integral to properly inserting your earplug. With your opposite hand, reach around behind your head to grab the top of your ear. So, if you’re inserting your right earplug, you’ll reach behind your head with your left hand. Now, pull your ear up and insert the earplug. This pulling motion straightens out the ear canal so the plug can fit in smoothly and snugly.
As the foam expands to fill your ear canal, press and hold the back of the plug that remains outside your ear, and wait for the plug to fully expand. This ensures the plug will stay in the proper position inside your ear as it expands. Once the foam has fully expanded, you can release the plug and begin your work. You’ll know the plug has made a good seal if your voice sounds muffled when you speak.
Check the fit
Because foam earplugs rely on proper insertion to work, it’s best to test the earplug before using loud equipment. If the butt of the plug extends beyond your ear, it’s best to take it out and re-insert it. You can also test the seal by cupping your hand tightly over your ear. If sounds are more muffled with your hands over your ears, the earplug probably does not have a good seal, so it should be taken out and re-inserted.
If you’re looking for an earplug that’s right for you, check out our selection of foam earplugs and earmuffs.