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Press Release

New Regulations for Better Hearing at a Lower Cost–TrapShootingUSA

Good hearing is essential to enjoying the shooting sports for both safety and situational awareness. Clinical hearing loss is increasing and occurring at younger ages according to Garry G. Gordon, Audiologist with over 35 years of experience and CEO of E.A.R., Inc.

New Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations have defined a new class of product, the Personal Sound Amplification Product (PSAP). While hearing aids are defined as medical devices and require a visit to a licensed dispensing audiologist, hearing aid dispenser, or ENT doctor, the PSAP doesn’t. The PSAP is ideal for those seeking additional sound amplification and who don’t require a medical diagnosis. High quality digital hearing aids can cost upwards of $6,000 per set while PSAP’s can be purchased for $299-$599 per ear.

Some PSAP’s even allow for Bluetooth connections. Many in the shooting sports may try to use their electronic hearing protection as an amplification device with less than ideal results due to circuitry designed primarily for protection.

New guidelines are also forthcoming from the FDA regarding Over The Counter (OTC) hearing aids that should allow for lower cost options that will be available from non-traditional sources such as big box retailers. Everyone should have their hearing professionally tested and evaluated with options for protection and/or augmentation discussed.

Article credit: TrapShootingUSA.

New Regulations for Better Hearing at a Lower Cost by Garry Gordon EAR Custom Hearing

Solving hearing protection problems

What is “acoustical confusion,” and what are some solutions to this problem?

Responding is Garry G. Gordon, audiologist, and CEO, E.A.R. Inc., Boulder, CO.

I’m sure most people have experienced environmental situations in which their ability to communicate was hindered. Such places include restaurants, concerts, movies, meetings, work assignments and even home environments.

Should one have mild, moderate or severe hearing loss, life predictably becomes more complicated and usually begins with denial, followed by withdrawal.

Have you ever had your spouse or a friend say, “Turn down the TV,” “Your turn signal is still on” or “You need a hearing aid”?

How about a plant manager who said, “I told you to meet at 7 a.m., not 11 a.m.”? If such exposures continue without adequate hearing devices, the risk of a recordable threshold shift or an error stemming from a communication breakdown rises.

A common response is, “I hear you but I don’t understand!” The same scenario applies to equipment failures because the mechanic or engineer could not hear critical sounds coming from machines. As a result, it’s common for employees to alter their ear protection to hear better.

So what’s the problem? Some call it acoustical confusion. We are witnessing noise-induced hearing loss at an all-time high. This includes young and old. The current ramifications of excessive noise exposure could not be more apparent, and when an employee has hearing issues at home, similar issues should be expected at work.

With more than 35 years of professional experience in the industrial and recreational hearing healthcare markets, we decided to review many of the responses our clients fill out to questions regarding their hearing acuity. Of particular note were the clients who said they don’t hear well at home, work or play, and when they are required to wear hearing protection, their situational awareness diminishes. As a result, many alter their protection or don’t install it properly.

We also spoke with several of the audiometric teams that provide services to industrial accounts and asked how they review their results. In most cases, they said all audiograms are reviewed to identify an employee’s current hearing status, as well as identify recordable threshold shifts that could result in a claim or need to see a doctor. There was no evidence, for the most part, that audiograms were reviewed to identify those with the untreated hearing loss, which could contribute to communication breakdowns or poor situational awareness on the job.

So, a big question to pose to the market is: How many errors or safety issues are a result of inadequate hearing acuity or poorly selected hearing protection devices?

A review of current and forthcoming products suggests numerous options may provide improved situational awareness and better communications. The same goes for those needing amplification when away from work. According to the Food and Drug Administration, a new classification of over-the-counter hearing aids and personal sound amplification products are emerging quickly at affordable prices. Not being able to hear well – on or off the job – can be considered a serious safety concern, and the options available to minimize acoustical confusion are being made available at affordable prices. After all, hearing loss often is more noticeable than the products that can assist.

 

Trends in … hearing protection

‘We don’t realize we have hearing loss until it is too late’

  • About 22 million people are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work every year, according to OSHA.

“Loud noise can create physical and psychological stress, reduce productivity, interfere with communication and concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents and injuries by making it difficult to hear warning signals,” the agency states, adding that noise-induced hearing loss can impair a person’s ability to understand speech and communicate.

Here, hearing protection industry insiders discuss what’s new and offer helpful advice.

Innovations

Advances in technology allow employers to provide workers with hearing protection that doesn’t disrupt situational awareness, according to Garry G. Gordon, an audiologist at Boulder, CO-based E.A.R. Inc. “This includes both filterings in addition to digital electronics that help with communications,” Gordon said.

Chris O’Donnell, hearing and eyewear product manager for Memphis, TN-based Radians Inc., touted the benefits of communication devices that also provide hearing protection. “They allow workers to communicate without having to remove their hearing protection,” O’Donnell said. “This not only helps the employees protect against hearing loss, but they are less likely to make mistakes that cause injury because of miscommunication.”


Stay educated

If hearing protection isn’t worn the way it’s designed to be worn, workers are more vulnerable to injury. This may seem straightforward, yet, according to O’Donnell, “a large percentage of users don’t take the time to wear hearing protection properly.”

He notes that another common problem is overprotection when workers use hearing protection with too high of a noise reduction rating. “This could cause difficulty communicating with co-workers and lead to injury,” he said.

“Fit checking surveys continue to imply numerous employees are not wearing their options properly,” Gordon said, adding that educating workers about wearing hearing protection and understanding their expectations is critical.

When asked to describe the most important principle workers should know about hearing protection, Gordon said, “Basically, it would be: Use a product that works, and use it religiously at work, home or play. And take advantage of having an annual audiometric test that includes an explanation.”

Ultimately, don’t take your hearing for granted. “Hearing damage … occurs slowly over a period of time,” O’Donnell said, “and most of the time we don’t realize we have hearing loss until it is too late.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

 

Waterproof Custom Electronics

Boulder, CO (July 24th, 2015)

Excess moisture has long been the number one cause of damage to the electronic hearing protection and/or hearing aids.

E.A.R. Inc.’s new WATERPROOF/RESILIENT series of custom-fit electronic earplugs have been specifically designed to meet or exceed the acoustical needs of both hunters and shooters.

All earplugs are 100% DIGITAL and automatically reduce damaging sounds that exceed 85 dB such as gunfire while amplifying quiet sounds and ensuring 360-degree situational awareness.

There are 12 color choices of faceplates and multiple color choices for shells including swirls and glow-in-the-dark. The earplugs come with a removable lanyard for those who want to minimize the risk of loss when hunting or shooting.

Available in one or two channel variations.

For more information contact E.A.R., Inc. at info@earinc.com or 1-800.525.2690 (Toll-Free Canada/US), 1-303.447.2619 (International/US).

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Waterproof Electronic Earplugs

When activated, SHOTHUNT™ electronic earplugs provide two different functions at the same time:

  1. The digital protective function will automatically and drastically suppress all noises and sounds above an 85dB safety threshold – either sharp and brief, like a gunshot, or very long, like the noise of working heavy machinery.
  2. The corrective function will enhance all noises and sounds under the safety threshold, providing a +20dB level without altering natural hearing.

SHOTHUNT™ electronic earplugs will easily adapt to the shape of the user’s auricle, thanks to the ergonomically-shaped “Half-Shell” design that also grants excellent retention within the natural shape of your ear. The interchangeable memory-foam tips will also adapt to the user’s ear canals, and ensure comfort and efficiency.

The electronic “heart” of SHOTHUNT™ technology consists in a 100% digital, multi-channel processor that will eliminate all dangerous noises, leaving all others intact such as sound directionality, vocal tones, and proximity sounds, allowing the user to retain a full 360° environmental awareness.

SHOTHUNT™ electronic earplugs are totally waterproof, both on the outside and inside: the P2i Aridion nanotechnology provides total protection for the electronic components against water, moisture, sweat and other corrosive elements.

SHOTHUNT™ electronic earplugs are sold in a full deluxe package including spare batteries and foam tips.

SHOTHUNT™ electronic earplugs are perfectly suited for all shooting-related purposes – hunting, all shooting sports and other civilian shooting disciplines, and military and police tactical/professional/operational deployments – and will show all their excellent potential particularly in some fields, like IPSC or professional training, where the shooter must remain focused while at the same time always be aware to the orders given by the trainers or the Range Masters, and follow them.

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HearDefenders-DF®

According to the military, law enforcement, and industrial groups, many of the standard type ear protectors on today’s market go unused properly because they minimize one’s ability to hear critical sounds needed for communications and environmental awareness.
In response to this situation we have placed our professional focus on advanced technology that incorporates breathable, moisture resistant acoustical filters that improve sound quality when the ear is overloaded with excess noise, continuous or impact.

You are now able to purchase a multifunctional dual-filtered hearing protector that was designed to help you hear speech better in noise and could be hooked up to two-way radio communications!  The HearDefenders-DF® is available in a choice of black or orange and 3 easy-to-insert sizes (small – medium – large).  All come with a removable cord.

The exterior filter can be easily removed if less attenuation is desired or if the end user wants to connect radio communications. Most individuals will get a comfortable seal with the Medium size.

This chart was conducted from 50dBa to 110dBa and verifies how the NRR values increase as the noise level increases. When compared to average performances from solid earplugs, the HearDefenders-DF® clearly demonstrates the ability to hear critical sounds better while suppressing unwanted noise. (Information provided is with both filters installed)

With this new breakthrough in being able to produce a non-electronic earplug with the aspects of increasing noise suppression to louder noise environments, we call this product HearDefenders-DF® and have made it available in a choice of different colors, 3 easy-to-insert sizes and a removable cord.

Reference: Gunfire Noise Level Reference Chart