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Hearing protection and how to protect your head buying guide

Guide written by:
Holly, self-taught DIYer, Cardiff

Holly, self-taught DIYer, Cardiff

22 guides
Some work requires hearing protection for sound level of more than 85 decibels (dB). For this, a headband, headphones, or ear plugs protect your ears. For your head: hard hat and anti-slip cap required. Helmet novice or helmet expert, just follow our advice.

Important features

  • Anti-shock cap
  • Safety helmet
  • Headphones
  • Headphones

Helmet and hearing protection: how to choose

Before choosing your helmet or hearing protection, you must know the risks involved in your activity. For the head, each type of risk corresponds to a suitable protection that meets the requirements in force:

Head protection type - helmet and cap

  • Anti-shock caps: choose an anti-shock cap that combines lightness and comfort to protect your head against small shocks such as superficial wounds or lacerations. The anti-collision caps must have the reference number EN 812. Be aware that whatever protection these caps provide, their impact resistance is lower than that of a protective helmet.
  • Protective helmets:  stronger than anti-shock caps, protective helmets focus on activities where the risks are greater. For protection against falling objects, protective helmets with reference number EN 397 are used. On the other hand, they do not protect against the risks of lateral projection of objects and a blow from a sharp object.

For this, the protective helmet with reference number EN 14052 is required. For your information, some helmets under reference number EN 397 do cover risks of electrocution up to 440 Volts. Professionals who operate in an environment where the electrical hazard is high should be equipped with a protective helmet reference number EN 50365.

Hearing protection type - active headphones and passive headphones

  • The so-called passive headphones are a simple headband and ear plugs or covers. Selecting a pair is largely a  matter of figuring out your comfort criteria. It is necessary to know the intensity of the noise you will be exposed to expressed in terms of decibels of SNR (rate of overall attenuation of a noise). In general, each hearing protection meeting the NF EN 352 standard provides an acoustic reduction index between 20 dB and 36 dB depending on the model. The choice is made according to the desired comfort and the intensity of the noise. Ear plugs are better suited for continuous use while the headphones are recommended for intermittent use.
  • Active headphones, unlike the passive variety which cancel out noise via insulation,  contain a microphone that senses ambient noise and adjusts so that the sound from the loudspeaker is attenuated similarly to noise cancelling headphones.

To give you an idea, a chainsaw or a circular saw has a sound level between 80 and 120 dB, a jackhammer or a jet engine between 120 and 160 dB, more than 160 dB is a gunshot or a rocket.

Helmet and hearing protection: two in one?

Obviously, protective helmets equipped with an anti-noise system exist and several models are available.

Some of them are sold with a visor that covers the face to protect against debris or projectiles. In addition to a visor, others have, a neck covering and protection. This last model is ideal for outdoor work.

Your head is thus protected against debris and protected against dust and protected against the sun.

Be warned, you will not want to go to the beach with these on.

Helmet and hearing protection: final advice

For the sake of comfort, you may find the following important when buying:

  • The weight of the helmet for a more pleasant long-term use
  • The interior padding such a foam or cloth cover suitable for intensive use, a frontal protection to reduce friction, etc.
  • The presence of an adjustable chin strap for work requiring a lot of head movements.

To always work safely, equip yourself with the different PPE, and to choose them well, read through the advice of our editors and look at their Guides:

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Guide written by:

Holly, self-taught DIYer, Cardiff 22 guides écrits

Holly, self-taught DIYer, Cardiff
I have to admit that my educational background has little to do with my current passion: all things DIY. Studying management may have given me an ability to keep projects on track, but it's not much use when faced with the prospect of giving an old house a fresh new look.

My passion for DIY all started 5 years ago, when my husband and I bought our very first house. We were so proud...and then we saw how much work needed to be done! Since I basically started with no knowledge of home renovations, I had to learn as I went along, working on projects both great and small. My husband helped me at first, but soon, I was showing him what to do!

Where we live, the rain makes gardens grow wild, so I've become somewhat of an expert on gardening tools. My friends and family all come to me when they need DIY and gardening advice. Now I want to share that knowledge - with you!

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