Safety with regard to hearing protection is often overshadowed by more physical forms of injury like eye, hand and face exposure. While hearing damage is not as dramatic as a other forms of lawn care injuries, the impact can still last a lifetime.
Hearing damage can occur after only one hour exposure of 90 decibels, with long term, repeated exposure creating the most potential for serious hearing loss. Many lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and string trimmers exceed 90 decibels during operation so hearing protection should be worn every time loud machines are in operation.
Listen to tunes while protecting your your hearing
3M has launched their new TEKK Protection™ brand of safety gear aimed at the DIY market featuring safety glasses, dust masks and the WorkTunes™ earmuffs. Based on comfort, ease of use and effectiveness, these products are meant to encourage the reduction of hazard exposures while minimizing the discomfort or inconvenience often associated with using safety gear.
With WorkTunes™ it is possible to protect your hearing while listening to your favorite music either through the digital AM/FM radio or the MP3/iPod™ port. With a noise reduction of 22 decibels, the radio features digital tuning with presets and an LCD display.
WorkTunes™ comes in a rugged housing with wide ear cushions for low pressure, effective sealing and good comfort. A wide headband and easy size adjustments further add to the comfort level and the controls are easy to navigate even while the unit is on the head. Preset/memory buttons save up to 10 stations and there is also a seek/scan feature for tuning in radio stations. A digital display screen clearly indicates the current channel and features a low battery indicator. The WorkTunes™ MP3/iPod™ port ads further options to the unit with the ability to listen to stored music without having to use earbuds, the music is piped directly to the speakers of the unit, providing comfortable listening with no outside noise.
WorkTunes™ are ideal for homeowners
WorkTunes™ is ideal for helping pass the time on a riding mower, pushing a mower around the yard, or operating a string trimmer. The complete enclosure of the ears helps block outside noise and allows for the radio or MP3 player to be kept to relatively low levels avoiding the need to turn the music up too loud.
While I would not necessarily recommend WorkTunes™ for a lawn care employee who is operating specialized equipment and needs to use all of his or her senses to pay attention and detect potential problems with the machinery. I would highly recommend them to the average homeowner who is looking to listen to some music while preforming noisy tasks around the house. A homeowner should always use an abundance of caution when performing lawn care routines like string trimming or mowing the lawn, and the addition of music to a routine involving dangerous equipment like lawn mowers and string trimmers might be a distraction, but if as long as the area is free of children, pets, and debris, using WorkTunes is relatively safe.
My experience with WorkTunes™
I enjoyed this product on a number of different level but there was a drawback that is likely not specific to this machine but to portable radios everywhere. The quality of the radio signal varied depending on the channel and the orientation of my head at any given time, reminding me of being a kid with a transistor radio and having to hold it just right for the clearest signal. The popular stations seem to put out strong enough signals both on AM and FM but there were some weak ones that did not want to lock in. I can't help but think this would still happen no matter what kind of radio I was dealing with - even my car radio has issues picking up certain radio stations depending on where I am driving.
I really like the MP3 port and mainly used this feature with my iPod™ rather than the radio. The sound was crisp and clear but independent of the internal amplifier, meaning the radio should be turned off while listening to an outside source or the two sounds could end up playing simultaneously. The sound quality is not exceptional, nor is it really supposed to be. We're talking safety equipment here, not audiophile equipment. The sound is certainly good enough to make mowing the lawn a little more enjoyable.
I even used the WorkTunes earmuffs without any music or radio. They are still completely functional as hearing protection and can even be used in conjunction with earplugs for more than 22 decibels of protection.
Beyond safety, WorkTunes™ is also great to wear at sporting events to listen to the play-by play on the radio and keep the outside noise to a dull roar.