Installing wood flooring. HEARING PROTECTION

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One in 10 Americans has a hearing loss severe enough to affect their ability to understand speech. It’s more common among wood flooring contractors. Nearly everyone I know in this trade has hearing loss, which has made me all the more adamant about hearing protection.

Noise is measured in decibels, or dB. The dB scale is logarithmic rather than linear. An increase of 10dB isn’t additive; it represents a tenfold increase in noise. Consequently, even a small increase in dB can have a larger effect than is immediately apparent. Noise levels of 85dB or higher can damage your hearing. Most floor sanding equipment reaches 90dB or more. If you look on any earmuff or earplug package, you’ll find a government-mandated noise-reduction rating (NRR). The NRR represents how many decibels the product reduces noise.

Because the arms of glasses interfere with how earmuffs seal to the head, wearing them diminishes earmuffs’ effectiveness. To be on the safe side, it is best to wear earmuffs and earplugs together. This isn’t a bad idea anyway, particularly when sanding flooring. One caveat: Use only clean ear plugs. Dirty ones can lead to infection.