Ear protection at work and at home

The right ear protection will protect your ears when you are working with loud tools whether you are at work or at home. We explain what you should consider when selecting and using ear protection.

Ear protection at work and at home

Why hearing protection is important at work

Whether it’s leaf blowers, chainsaws or hedge trimmers, working with power tools can be loud. Our ears are sensitive and should not be exposed to excessively loud noises. However, those working in the garden or in the forest cannot always avoid noisy conditions.

In order to protect your hearing from excessive and prolonged noise and to prevent future hearing damage, you should wear ear protection when using any noisy tools.

But not all noise is the same. In addition to the strength of the sound, the distance from the source of the noise is also important. For example, the question of whether an engine is directly next to the ear while working – as with hedge trimmers – or whether it is more than one metre away, as with lawn mowers,  makes a difference. So it is important to know how much noise the ear is directly exposed to when choosing the right hearing protection.

The operating instructions for our garden and work tools include two values: the sound power level represents the direct volume produced on the device itself, while the sound pressure level specifies the value that actually reaches the user. Both values are expressed in decibels (dB).

Ear protection for private users

What types of ear protection are there?

There are two basic forms: Ear plugs and ear defenders. Both types offer identical protection – there are no fundamental differences in noise protection, and they are both available in various designs for different purposes. They can also be combined with other personal protective equipment (PPE) components such as helmets or visors. 

The best type of ear protection – ear plugs or ear defenders – is entirely up to you. In general, you should choose the type of hearing protection you feel most comfortable with.

Ear defenders

Ear defenders look like thick headphones. The ear defenders are usually attached to a headband or mounted on a helmet. The sound protection principle is the same as for ear plugs. They can simply be folded up or removed during work breaks.

Ear defenders are suitable for all types of work, both indoors and outdoors. They can also be used in all types of weather. In cold temperatures, this form of hearing protection also offers the advantage of keeping the ears warm as you work.

In general, the use of ear defenders is recommended if you have to often put on and take off your ear protection or if you work in dirty environments. Ear defenders are more hygienic to use than ear plugs if you have resin on your hands, for example if working in a forest.

Ear defenders with wireless or Bluetooth® function, such as the STIHL Dynamic ear defenders with Bluetooth® (BT)

Ear protection with Bluetoot

Ear protection headphones with radio or Bluetooth® is a further development of the traditional defenders. This allows users to communicate with colleagues easily by connecting a smartphone to them. You can also listen to music or the radio with these ear defenders. 


For professional activities, there are concrete specifications as to the noise levels at which employees require hearing protection. Whether in forestry, on a construction site or in urban areas, ear protection is required when decibel levels reach certain values.

A man wearing ear protection at work on a construction site

When should you wear ear protection for private work?

Ear protection for private work in the garden

Private work such as  garden maintenance or cutting firewood in the forest can also be noisy. Some petrol chainsaws, petrol brushcutters and petrol hedge trimmers can produce noise levels over 100 dB, which is comparable to a rock concert. Electric models can reach levels of 85 to 100 dB, which is roughly as loud as a major road.

It’s worth noting that cordless power tools generate the least noise. A cordless leaf blower produces around 60 to 80 dB of noise, while cordless line trimmers and cordless hedge trimmers also produce similar values.

A woman wearing ear protection headphones and gloves works with some garden equipment at home

The individual noise level of the tool you are using is crucial.  You can find the sound pressure level in the operating instructions for all STIHL power tools – this level will determine whether you need to use ear protection when operating the device. The values are given for typical use of each tool. Please consult the instruction manual before starting work and make sure you have the right ear protection. 

Guide: how to choose the right ear protection for your work

STIHL tip: Finding the right STIHL ear protection is easy. All models with the suffix “Concept” have a band. Models with “BT” in the name feature Bluetooth® connectivity.

How do I care for and clean my ear protection?

To make sure that your ear protection will protect you in the long term, you should look after it and treat it correctly. 

  • Cleaning:

Remove any accumulated dust and liquids after working and make sure that the ear protection can dry out properly.

  • Care:

If ear defenders are used frequently, the hygiene sets – consisting of sealing rings and foam pads – should be replaced regularly. Deformations, cracks, fractures or deformed bands are all signs that you need to replace your ear protection.

  • Storage:

You should store your ear protection in a clean, dry environment that is not too warm and is protected from direct sunlight.

Summary: choosing the right ear protection

  • Many power and garden tools produce high levels of noise that you need to protect your hearing from.
  • Suitable ear protection is recommended for professional work, such as work on construction sites or in forests, as well as for private work.
  • Use the SNR or HML values to determine which protection value your ear protection should provide. You can find this information in the instruction manual.