Manufacturing News

PPE incompatibility solutions

PLAY a C chord on the piano, and you hear a pleasant and melodic sound. Play the next higher chord— a C# —and you hear another pleasant sound. But play the two together, and the discord grates on your ears.

Mismatching Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be like that, and has the potential to compromise both fit and protection. A common workplace example of this occurs when earmuffs are worn with other head protection—safety eyewear, hard-hat, face shield or welding helmet. Each piece alone performs very well, however the wrong combination of hearing protection with other PPE can compromise the attenuation of the protector, sometimes significantly.

The conflict arises when wearing two pieces of PPE. The combination of earmuffs with other PPE can result in problems such as insufficient clearance for headband with a helmet, gaps around the earmuff seal with safety glasses, insufficient clearance for ear cup with face shields and welding helmets, and contact transmission of vibrations with respirators.

In most cases, the earmuff wearer can simply switch to earplugs to avoid conflicts with other PPE. Earplugs offer the same level of protection, and are compatible with virtually all other PPE. But in some cases, use of an earmuff is still preferred over an earplug.

Earmuffs have the advantage of being easier to wear, are more comfortable for some users, and more hygienic in some dirty environments. Some wearers cannot switch to earplugs because their specialty earmuffs are wired for communication or radio transmission. Earmuffs are also the preferred hearing protector for employees suffering from acute or chronic ear infections or irritations.

Manufacturers have responded to this need by developing a wide range of earmuffs compatible with other PPE, as shown in the table. Cap-mounted earmuffs are available for use with a variety of helmets, allowing users to rotate the earmuffs back when not in use.

Neckband models are ideal for use with face shields and welding helmets, where the band fits unobtrusively behind the neck.

With the right selection of compatible PPE, the attenuation of an earmuff is not compromised. Each component of a worker’s protection system works in harmony with the other parts, and the result is an adequately protected worker.


Howard Leight offers several models to meet a wide range of specialty applications.

The Thunder, Leightning, and the Clarity series earmuffs mount directly on hard hats, or fold away for convenience. Leightning is also available with a special neckband design for use when other protective gear is being worn, such as face shields or welding helmets.

The helmet-mounted earmuffs come with adapters which allow them to fit most hard hat brands, and are height adjustable. The earmuffs fold down and ‘snap-in’ over the ears when protection is required, then can fold up onto the back of the helmet when not needed.

Folding earmuffs can be easily stored in a tool box, and the entire line of earmuffs includes super-soft, snap-in ear cushions for extended wear and hygiene.

Clarity earmuffs are designed to provide advanced sound management. Clarity earmuffs feature a uniform attenuation technology that blocks harmful noise while voice frequencies can be heard more naturally, with less distortion, facilitating productivity and improving safety in environments where communication is essential.

Leightning noise blocking earmuffs combine maximum protection and contemporary design. Leightning offers long-wearing comfort and durability in the most rugged environments and are available in multiple attenuation levels to allow users to choose the right protection for their application.

The Leightning series features Air Flow Control technology, providing more consistent attenuation, especially in low frequencies. Leightning helmet-mounted, folding and neckband earmuffs incorporate steel wire headbands for tough applications where less deformable metal is preferred.

The Thunder series of noise blocking earmuffs are designed to provide top-of-the-line protection and comfort in applications where dielectric construction is preferred. Made of tough, non-deformable plastic the Thunder earmuffs are available in multiple attenuation levels to allow wearers to target protection, and features the new Air Flow Control technology.


Smartfit Detectable earplugs includea metal band on the earplug shaft and attached metallised cord for full metal detection, while the blue colour ofthe earplug and cord aids in visual detection.

It’s for industries such as food processing where contamination by foreign objects is of primary concern.In Laser Lite single-use earplugs, low-pressure foam expands gently inside the ear canal for comfortable long-term wear, while its contoured T-shape delivers easy handling. Laser Lite’s high-visibility magenta and yellow colours make compliance checks quick and easy

Sperian Protection Australia1300 139 166

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