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What is SNR? Hearing Protection Explained | LESH

Hearing protection Zone

SNR = Single Number Rating.

dB= Decibels

This is a value given to hearing protection which gives a very general comparison of attenuation (reduction in noise) across different hearing protection products. In other words, ear plugs with an SNR value of 20dB will offer less protection than ear plugs with an SNR value of 30dB.

This value is very general. Sound at different frequencies can penetrate objects differently. For example, high frequency sounds are easier to stop due to their wave pattern. Most hearing protection will give more information about the level of protection at different frequencies, either by High, Medium and Low frequencies, or by showing a graph with a wide range of frequencies and what level of protection can be expected at each frequency.

So, using the correct hearing protection is vital, if you use a product with a very low SNR and you work in a very noisy environment, you may not be protecting your staff enough. However, you should avoid just using the highest SNR you can find, overprotection is also an issue. If your hearing protection offers too high attenuation, your staff may be overprotected and not hear warnings, fire alarms etc. If you know that your noise levels are around 90dB, aim for an SNR value of 10-20dB to bring the noise level at the ear to between 70-80dB.

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