It's common knowledge that lawn mowers and other landscaping equipment can be loud. But people may not realize that noise-induced hearing loss is a severe and widespread issue for lawn care professionals, impacting thousands yearly.
Whether you've been in the profession for years or just starting, you should have proper ear equipment. Here are the most important factors to consider when finding the best earbuds and headphones for landscaping and lawn care.
First, here's a look at some of the reasons why you should wear hearing protection while mowing the lawn.
You can determine the loudness of lawn mowing equipment by measuring the sound in decibels. Generally, riding lawn mowers reach 90 decibels.
Some other common measurements include:
To ensure their safety, workers should have ear protection when using any equipment above 85 decibels.
Chainsaws are Extremely Loud and Can Damage Your Hearing
If you're unsure about your working conditions, you can easily find equipment or apps to measure the exact decibel output.
Noises cause damage to the inner ear over time. Inside the ear are hairs that work to help pass on vibrations. Permanent damage can happen to these hairs if the vibrations are too intense from loud noises.
Additionally, hearing loss can occur because of injury to the nerves inside your ear.
One method to reduce this damage, aside from ear muffs for lawn care, is to invest in quieter lawn equipment. That approach might be easier for some than others, but if you're still gathering the standard landscaping tools, you may want to consider electronic or other muted options.
Regardless of your equipment, it's essential to consider how long it takes for damage to occur when searching for the best earbuds and headphones for landscaping and lawn care.
Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for ears to be adversely affected.
OSHA approves working at 90 decibels for eight hours. If you're working at 100 decibels exposure, longer than 15 minutes can cause damage, and 110 decibels can cause hearing damage in less than one minute.
One rule of thumb is that every time the decibels increase by three, you should cut the safe amount of time in half. So 93 decibels would only be safe for four hours.
Lawn Mowers are Can Damage Your Hearing Over Time
Still, the damage is preventable with proper mowing headphones.
You can also try to rotate your duties so that you aren't doing too many noisy activities one after another. Taking breaks between events can significantly help.
If you're unsure if you've ever had sound damage to your ears, there are a few common indicators to listen out for.
After the loud event, ringing or other leftover noises in your ears is a warning sign. If you begin to struggle with hearing people speak to you or stop being able to hear high-pitched noises, you may have hearing loss.
The best headphone options can lead to massive noise reduction. In fact, you can almost eliminate your risk of hearing loss if you wear headphones and earbuds correctly.
Plus, some options can make work more enjoyable. Radio headphones and traditional earbuds can let you listen to your favorite music or podcasts while working.
Realistically, headphones aren't just a beneficial tool but should be required protective equipment. Moreover, it's often a good idea to wear headphones if you have to raise your voice to speak with people less than an arm's length away.
Now that the importance of headphones is better understood, here's how you can find the best earbuds and headphones for landscaping and lawn care.
One of the most crucial factors to consider is the noise-cancellation ability of the headphones. A noise reduction rating measures this ability for official safety equipment.
Most commercial products won't have a noise reduction rating, but if you search for specific ear cups, ear muffs, or ear plugs for lawn care, you will see these numbers.
Standard noise-cancelling headphones typically only reach a 30 in noise reduction. That number means you subtract 30 from the decibel loudness of the equipment, so something running at 100 decibels would be 70 with the protection.
Luckily, lawn mowers run at around 90 decibels. You only need at least a noise reduction rating of six to operate safely at 84 decibels.
The best hearing protection offers some form of noise cancellation.
Some people find that the most effective method is to wear noise-cancelling headphones over the ear with wireless earbuds inside for listening to music. Doing so allows you to prioritize the quality of both the safety gear and the sound quality.
If you aren't buying gear with a noise reduction rating, you're encountering a different form of noise cancellation.
In commercial products, there is passive noise cancellation, active noise cancellation, and adaptive active noise cancellation.
Passive noise cancellation is simple and happens when tight ear cups seal against your ear to block extra sound. Headphones and earplugs are common examples.
Active noise cancellation is the most common in modern technology. The headphones or earbuds monitor the outside noise with microphones. When it's too loud, an inner speaker uses an inverted sound to cancel out the background sounds.
Finally, adaptive active noise cancelling uses the same technology but lets you control the level of background noise you can hear.
Next, you’ll want to consider the ability of the headphones to stay in place. After all, it can be a hassle to adjust your gear while you're working. Plus, if they slip out at the wrong time, it could risk ear damage.
Generally, headphones will do a better job than earbuds. The fit over the head is tighter, and the only risk is something bumping them off.
Earbuds tend to pop out of the ear during vigorous movement. Some manufacturers have several sizes to make it easier to find a product that is a suitable match for you.
Additionally, you can often find earbuds with pieces to wrap behind your head to help them stay on. Some might find this ideal for working over entirely wireless options like Apple AirPods. The airpods pro version even features noise cancellation to drown out ambient noise. They're much less bulky than over the hear noise cancellation headphones.
The best-fitting options tend to be professional headphones and earplugs for landscapers.
These ear muffs seal tightly against your skin to reduce noise passively. While the fit should be tight, if you feel pain, it's a sign that they aren't the right size for you. Headphones that are too tight can damage the cartilage of your ear.
Don't sacrifice comfort while choosing an option that will stay in your ear.
The style of ear protection impacts many other factors, partially because some have limited features. But for the most part, the form is a personal preference.
Earplugs are the most basic option. They are small pieces of malleable material that you can insert into your ear. You’ll want earbuds to fit airtight in the ear canal for proper use.
You can find them in various sizes, and some will custom-fit to your ears. Sometimes earplugs can come with extra headbands to help them stay in your ear.
Unfortunately, earplugs are typically just a solid material and do nothing else but protect your ears.
One of the other common forms of protection is ear muffs, which similarly seals against your ear to reduce noise passively. Often, they have large pads to cover the entire ear and a headband.
Ear muffs sometimes can't seal entirely when wearing over over glasses. They also tend to have no power to play music.
Next, earbuds can come in multiple styles. These music devices fit inside the ear, similarly to earplugs but not quite as tightly.
Earbuds can either have cords that connect to the phone or be wireless. Some wireless options are just earpieces, while others have bands that wrap behind the ears to keep them in place.
Usually, earbuds don't do quite as well at noise cancellation as other options. But they do play music, and some people find the fit comfortable.
Finally, headphones are an over-the-ear option that can be wireless or wired. Headphones have the strongest noise cancellation aside from earplugs and ear muffs.
Over the Ear Headphones with Noise Cancellation are Effective at Blocking Outside Noise
People tend to find headphones fit better during work. They also can play music or podcasts.
Some of the best earbuds and headphones for landscaping and lawn care might seem basic, especially if you're only concerned about safety.
While extra features can be exciting, don't let them persuade you into an option that is less than ideal.
Still, some extra features can be worth having.
For instance, radio headphones allow you to tune directly into your local am/fm radio stations. That can be great if you don't want to kill your phone battery while listening to music while you work.
Occasionally, headphones have microphones that allow you to take phone calls through your headgear. This feature can make it easier to keep your headphones on because you won't have to worry about taking them off and on for specific tasks.
Another factor to consider is the battery life of wireless headphones. Most options should make it through a typical workday.
But if your headphones rely on active noise cancellation and the battery dies, they may become useless while you're on the job. Not only will your music or podcasts stop, but so will the ear protection.
One uncommon design feature is water protection. Sweat could damage your headphones and cost you a new set during the hot summer.
Your comfort should be a top priority when choosing headphones. You'll likely have to wear this gear every day for hours, so it should fit well.
Professional safety gear should fit tight without being restrictive. These options will seal around or inside your ear. Some people may always find ear muffs and earplugs uncomfortable.
It's better to wear other headphones and earplugs than nothing at all if you dislike the fit of traditional designs.
Mostly, what is comfortable for you is a personal choice. It might be a good idea to visit a local store to try on different headgear to find your fit.
Alternatively, if you already have a pair of headphones you like but aren't noise-cancelling, you can measure the existing ones to find a similar new version.
One of the last considerations is cost.
Earbuds tend to be more cost-friendly than headphones, and earplugs are the cheaper alternative to ear muffs. The exception is disposable earplugs, as you may eventually buy enough pairs that it equals out.
Headphones may be pricier, but they usually have better sound quality. Cost can be particularly crucial if you're buying gear in bulk for your workers. Nevertheless, it's important to note that high-quality gear tends to degrade less over time.
After you have the best earbuds and headphones for landscaping and lawn care, you must use them safely. Improper usage could lead to other injuries.
While noise cancellation has plenty of benefits, being able to hear outdoor noises can help you stay safe while you're working. You don't want to miss the call of a fellow worker to stop, and you should always be aware of your surroundings while handling equipment given the dangers inherent to some lawn care machinery.
Luckily, it shouldn't be hard to hear other loud noises. Noise-canceling headphones work well at reducing constant noise rather than sudden sounds.
You should still hear alarms, shouts, or other warnings. The noises may be slightly muffled, but your awareness won’t be diminished.
However, be cautious when playing your music too loudly with headphones. It could block out other noises and distract you.
Loud music is another consideration for ear safety.
Choosing headphones or earbuds can be ideal for protecting your hearing from lawn care equipment. However, if you play your music too loudly inside the devices, it will cancel out.
Many phones and other players will let the music reach above 85 decibels, putting you back in the damage range. Don't play your media at maximum strength.
Additionally, loud music isn't a replacement for noise cancellation. If you have regular earbuds without any noise cancelling properties and play your music louder than the mower, your ears are receiving damage from both noises.
Another safety concern to consider is the wires of some headphones and earbuds.
Try to look for options with shorter wires, as long ones could become hazardous on the job. If you do have headphones with wires, keep them bundled together while you work.
Dangling wires can quickly become caught in machinery if you're not careful. Indeed, at a minimum, you might lose your ear protection. But, at worst, you could experience a serious injury.
Finally, here are a few frequently asked questions about the best earbuds and headphones for landscaping and lawn care to help you understand everything you need about your ear protection.
Usually, landscapers tend to wear professional headgear options or only the best noise-cancelling headphones.
Professional headgear is things like earplugs or ear muffs that seal against your ear. These choices are the only ones with noise reduction ratings to protect your hearing.
Noise-cancelling headphones are popular modern options for people looking to listen to media while on the job. Bluetooth wireless headphones are usually the standard.
Technically, personal earbuds aren't an official form of hearing protection.
The best earbuds for working from home have noise-canceling properties to help keep you focused on your job and tune out other sounds from the house.
It’s also a good idea to invest in earbuds with a microphone for working from home, which can be ideal for virtual meetings.
Plus, the microphone in the headphones is likely better than the built-in one from your laptop or PC.
True wireless earbuds are listening devices that are entirely disconnected, like earplugs.
Wireless earbuds can have problems staying in your ears, but finding a pair that fits you properly may prevent this.
The highest-quality wireless earbuds are snug, have a long-lasting battery life, and include some way to find the earbuds if you misplace them.
Some individuals find it convenient to wear protective ear muffs with wireless earbuds inside so they can have ear protection with music.
It's only been in recent years that noise cancellation technology has become small enough to fit inside earbuds.
Generally, the most effective earbuds for background noise have a form of active noise cancellation. Small speakers and microphones inside the device help to cancel out the sounds.
While the best earbuds and headphones for landscaping and lawn care typically fit in your ear snugly for a small amount of passive noise cancellation, it's nothing compared to options with active technology.