If you are active military serving in combat zones or training for combat, properly fitting earplugs are critical to protecting you from permanent partial or full damage to your hearing.
Injuries incurred while serving in the military are not uncommon. Combat and combat training conditions expose servicemen and women to a number of risks. Top among them are hearing loss and hearing-related conditions like tinnitus.
Military combat training exposes service members to high-decibel sounds from gunfire and explosions that, without proper hearing protection, can cause life-changing hearing loss or related problems over time.
Unfortunately, if you served in the military during the years of 2003 to 2015, you may have been issued defective Combat Earplugs.
3M Combat Earplugs
Between the years of 2003 to 2015, defense contractor, 3M Company (“3M”) knowingly sold the government defective earplugs which were “standard issue” for all active servicemen and women.
These dual-end earplugs (“3M Combat Arms TM Earplugs”) were two-tone in color (yellow and olive) and were supposed to offer military members two different levels of ear protection. Inserted one way, (olive end in) the earplugs were supposed to block out all noise. Inserted the other way, (yellow end in) the earplugs were supposed to allow the wearer to still hear conversations and commands yet protect his/her ears from battlefield explosions.
But they didn’t.
The 3M Combat Earplugs were defectively designed so instead of protecting the wearer, they moved imperceptibly in the ears, allowing dangerous sounds to enter the ear canal and causing hearing loss and/or tinnitus in thousands of military personnel.
The company that 3M bought which originally manufactured the 3M Combat Earplugs, Aearo Technologies, was aware as early as 2000 that the earplugs were defective. Yet they continued to sell them to the government and so did 3M when it took over in 2008.
Because of this deliberate fraud, thousands of servicemen and women have now suffered permanent full or partial hearing loss and other injuries, like tinnitus.
How Should Military Earplugs Fit?
While normally earplugs block out all sounds, in combat situations, not being able to hear at all can be extremely dangerous. Soldiers must be able to hear commands and the approach of the enemy.
If you are wearing earplugs issued to you between the years 2003 and 2015, or you got your earplugs second-hand, get rid of them and get yourself to a hearing specialist to have your hearing checked out.
If you are wearing Combat Earplugs issued after 2015, make sure that they fit snugly in your ear canal so that it is completely blocked. If the earplugs fit correctly, it will form a seal with the skin of the outer ear canal. You should be able to hear yourself talk out loud, but the sound should be muffled. Some vacuum pressure in the ear canal is also normal.
If you are not sure whether your Combat Earplugs fit correctly, have a specialist look at the fit and placement of the earplugs. Your hearing is far too important to risk unnecessarily.
If you believe you may have been damaged by defective 3M Combat Earplugs, contact us.
Helping Our Clients Get the Compensation They Deserve.
If you or someone you know may have been damaged by defective 3M Combat Earplugs, contact us. We are Louisiana personal injury and 3M Combat Earplug attorneys. We fight hard to get our clients the compensation they deserve. We offer free consultations and in most cases, we do not get paid unless you win your case. Call us at (225) 465-1232 or email us here.