Types of Ear Protection

sound planning ear protection infographic

Ear protection is used to shield the wearer from excessive noise that could damage their hearing, especially in the workplace. The protection chosen should reflect the level of risk.

Available in a number of different shapes and forms, ear protection is vital even though there are other ways to reduce workplace noise.

Read on to learn more about the different types of ear protection and where they are commonly used.

Wax Balls

Wax earplugs are available in different sizes. Commonly made from wax blended with cotton fibres, they are mouldable to enable the user to shape them comfortably in the ear – fitting almost everyone, no matter what the size and shape of the ears.

Popular uses:

  • Eliminating sound when sleeping
  • To dull outside noise for people living in a noisy environment – neighbours or loud traffic

Particularly popular for sleeping, the material can be more comfortable than other ear protection due its pliable nature.

Foam Earplugs

Most foam earplugs are manufactured from latex-free polyurethane; a medical-grade, safe foam. Largely single use, some people do use them multiple times.

Popular uses:

  • Industrial employees who work with loud machinery
  • Ministry of Defence for soldiers firing weapons
  • Gardeners working with noisy machinery such as motorised lawnmowers
  • Woodworkers and joiners


These are a popular choice for people working with machinery, including gardening equipment. Some users prefer them to earplugs inside the ear, while others might use them for extra protection. Earmuffs or defenders can sometimes provide more noise protection than earplugs, particularly for people working in very loud environments. The headband is made from metal or a hard thermoplastic or metal, with the protection coming from acoustic foam which sits comfortably on the ears.

Popular uses:

  • People working with heavy machinery
  • People working with aircraft engines
  • Military personnel who are exposed to gunfire
  • People working at or attending a firing range

Silicone Plugs

An alternative for people who struggle with the traditional earplug, silicone plugs can be moulded into the ear to create a custom fit.

Popular uses:

  • Comfortable for eliminating noise when sleeping
  • Noisy environments, such as construction sites
  • Swimming
  • Musicians


The most advanced hearing protection on the market, otoplastics can be adjusted to suit the current noise level. They are ideal for noisy environments where communication is essential, as flat attenuation provides a comfortable acoustic experience, with no need to remove your hearing protection to speak to someone.

Popular uses:

  • Noisy workplace environments
  • Musicians


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