Home Metal Fabrication Safety – Ear Protection 6

Working with metal is LOUD. Be sure to use ear protection. Read more to see how you can protect yourself cheaply and effectively.

Ear protection is CHEAP, there is no reason not to use it. Think about it this way, how much would you regret someday sitting at the dinner table with a smile on your face nodding because you didn’t hear a word your family/friends are saying unless they are talking directly at you. Hope whatever your grandkid is saying isn’t important…

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that loud noises hurt your hearing. The CDC and many companies have spent a lot of time and money studying this. The louder the noise, the less duration your body can handle before it causes damage.

Sound Exposure Chart

This chart shows noise intensity in decibels then the duration you can be exposed to that level of noise before it causes damage.

Picture courtesy: CDC.gov Noise Meter

According to the CDC Power Tools Database an angle grinder is ~100 decibels, that means that if you use it for ~15 minutes or longer (not hard to do) then you are doing PERMANENT damage to your hearing. A typical ear plug/muff will reduce the noise by ~25 decibels which means you could grind metal all day to your heart’s content and not do any damage to your hearing. Nuff said, so grab the damn ear plugs and put them in your ear!!!!!!!!!!!

There are a couple of different types of ear protection. Different types work well in different scenarios but in my opinion some ear protection is always better than none, so I’m not too picky. Pick what you like and use it.

EAR PLUGS – Disposable

These are my go-to ear protection in the shop. They are cheap and plentiful. They work with all types of other safety gear (respirators, helmets, etc.) and don’t get in the way while working in tight spaces. I always have enough on hand for other people if they happen to be in my shop while I am working.

Roll them between your index finger and thumb then insert into your ear. Sometimes I have found that they go in better if I use my other hand to grab and lift my ear a little. They make softer versions for people who have to wear ear protection all day. I have found that the old school yellow foam plugs hurt my ears after an hour or so, I ended up switching to some softer orange plugs because of this.

These are cheap, so don’t be afraid to try a couple of different versions to see what fits you best. Below are some bigger multipacks but you can find smaller quantities if you want to try them out first:

Disposable Ear Plug Tip – at the end of the day when you take your ear plugs out, just put them in your pocket. They will go through the washing machine and dryer and come out ear-wax and dirt free!

EAR PLUGS – Reusable

I honestly don’t use re-usable ear plugs very often but I can see where they would be handy. They come in a couple of different versions one is where they are on a head band that you can pull them out of your ears and let them hang around your neck. Great for if you have to take them in and out often throughout the day. I have also seen some others shown below that come with a storage case so you can put them in your pocket when not using them. These are usually made out of a rubbery plastic and can be washed in the sink with soap.


Ear muffs in my shop are a great for when you need ear protection quick for just a couple of minutes. They are easy to put on and take off. They are comfortable long-term but do sometimes get in the way when wearing other safety head-gear or are working in tight spaces.

Ear muffs are cheap. If you take care of them they should last a very long time. If you are worried about your ‘tunes’, they even make bluetooth enabled safety ear muffs. It bugs me when I see professional lawn mowers pumping music with their ear buds in addition to the already loud mowers they are riding on, a set of bluetooth ear muffs would work great for them.

Doing something REALLY LOUD or annoying? Put in ear plugs then put the ear muffs over them.


Thanks for taking the time to read and consider this. It is not my intention to nag, but it is my intention for you to be able to hear your grandkids talking to you when you get old. Who doesn’t want that?? Take some time to read the reviews and get some safety equipment on order, you won’t regret it.

For more info on other types of safety gear check out my article: Home Metal Fabrication Shop Safety Gear

Additional thoughts? Anything I missed? New technology I don’t know about? Post a comment!!

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6 thoughts on “Home Metal Fabrication Safety – Ear Protection

  • Jon brehaney

    I wish I had a db meter. My job gets crazy loud with the turrent punch running. Also when welding ear pro keeps hot splater out of your ears.

    • Paul Post author

      Good catch Jon! I forgot to add that in.

      Ear protection is especially useful while welding under vehicles or out of position. I have had many times where sparks have gotten around my helmet and dropped in my ear where I could hear it sizzling on the ear plug. Luckily I always wear ear plugs while welding so there was no way for the spark to get inside my ear and cause damage.

  • Misha

    Love your conclusion! I like to simply put ear muffs when I am mowing the lawn. I have one that plays music too. So I enjoy my work. I find it boring to just wear ear plugs and mow the lawn!

  • Ulysses Fryberger

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research on this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I’m very glad to see such wonderful info being shared freely out there.

  • Braden Bills

    I wanted to see if I could get some special metal fabrication equipment to get some metal for a project I’m doing. I didn’t know that it could be so loud! I’ll see if I can get a professional to do it instead.

  • Melanie Brusk

    The importance of effective ear protection has only been recognised in the last few decades, yet noise has steadily become the leading cause of premature hearing loss since the industrial revolution . Hearing protection is a must. You can’t expect to work in loud enviroment without proper protection.