A new, free white paper from Howard Leight/Sperian Hearing Protection, Smithfield, RI, is available to help hearing conservation and occupational safety professionals to better understand the hybrid push-in style of ear plugs that combine the use of foam for comfort with an insertion stem for ease-of-use.

Click here to download the white paper, titled Hybrid Push-In Style Earplugs: Factors That Contribute to a Proper Fit and Long-Term Comfort.

Many hearing conservation experts note that most foam ear plug users do not properly fit their ear plugs and often compromise hearing protection for personal comfort. Foam is an excellent attenuator and provides maximum comfort over long periods of time–but foam ear plugs are not always easy for users to properly fit, due to the need for users to roll down the edges during insertion, and the material’s variability in expansion.

Hybrid push-in style ear plugs combine foam with an insertion aid, such as a stem, to eliminate the need for roll-down and provide a quicker and easier fit.

The white paper discusses benefits of the hybrid style in terms of fit, use, comfort, and hearing protection. The paper analyzes several models of hybrid ear plugs in terms of material and stem composition and design–as well as foam to stem ratio (FSR) which, if too low in foam, can significantly decrease personal in-ear comfort. Using VeriPRO, an ear plug fit testing system from Howard Leight, the paper also details the levels of attenuation (protection from hazardous noise) and variability of fit that untrained users were able to achieve with a variety of hybrid and roll-down foam ear plug models.

In the end, the paper finds that a hybrid-style ear plug, "with its high foam content, enhanced wear time characteristics, and flexible, low-profile collapsible stem for insertion, can provide an ideal solution for those who seek a push-in style ear plug that is quick to insert, and maximizes overall fit and comfort."

[Source: Howard Leight]