Hearing loss in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is a problem that has not lessened over the years. The cost of claims for hearing loss borne by Veterans Affairs Canada is currently more than $180 million annually, including the cost of disability awards, services, and assistive listening devices. This study investigates different types of hearing protection devices for use during weapons firing.
Hearing protection devices (HPDs) are not rated for impulse noise, which makes it difficult to select an appropriate device for use during weapons firing. Measurements of different types of HPDs (level independent, level dependent, earplugs, and earmuffs) were performed following American National Standards Institute/Acoustical Society of America S12.42 procedures. This study found that earplug and earmuff combinations provided the most protection, followed by the level-independent earplugs, earmuffs, and level-dependent earplugs. Wearing of ballistic glasses reduced the effectiveness of the earmuffs. Although the results provide information about the level of protection that is possible for several types of HPDs, the best choice of HPD depends on the operational setting. The combination of level-independent earmuffs and earplugs was the most effective, but it is not a practical solution when communication is required. Earplugs should be worn in cases in which earmuffs interfere with sighting the weapon or are incompatible with other gear such as a helmet or glasses. Future work should include different types of communication headsets and different combinations of HPDs.
Comparison of different types of hearing protection devices for use during weapons firing. Ann Nakashima. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health 2015 1:2, 43-51.