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I know that eye protection, padded gloves for hammering to reduce harmful vibrations, and many other safety measures have been oft repeated on this forum to guard against injury, but I haven't seen much about ear protection specifically in regards to fossil hunting. First, an unnecessary backstory: I recently came to the realization that I have tinnitus and, being a bit of a hypochondriac, got myself freaked out over it. But that is, of course, silly since I can remember having tinnitus for years but just not really thinking about it. After calming down and realizing that I have had it for years, that it's very minimal tinnitus, and that it's not as bad as cancer, I have been considering ways that I can avoid making it any worse. Along with wearing earmuffs while vacuuming, I have begun to look for other strategies to avoid hearing damage. Now, some of these may be stupid questions (don't let anyone tell you, "there is no such thing as a stupid question."), but here it goes. The formation in which I hunt the most is the limestone/chalk Atco formation. One of my main means of finding fossils is just whacking on chunks of chalk, hoping to luck into some ammonites, echinoids, fish, or a perfectly articulated pterosaur clasping a new species of cretaceous mammal in its talons, and I have had much success (maybe not the last part). I mostly use an Estwing 4lb sledge and Stanely chisels with hand guards to do the job, but sometimes also use a 10 pound sledge for the harder and larger chunks. This works fine, but because I am dealing with relatively hard matrix the pinging of the sledge against the chisels can get annoying, but could it over time also cause tinnitus and hearing damage? Since I have gotten ear protection aware I have begun wearing EP3 Sonic Defenders when fossil hunting which have the great feature of allowing sounds like normal conversation and ambient noise in while reducing any noises above 85dB when the caps are off and greatly reducing all noise when the caps are in. Some of their other plugs like the EP4 and EP7 do the same thing and have more protection with the caps in, so I might get one of those too. So, my questions are: 1-When is it appropriate to wear ear protection while fossil hunting? 2-Could the pinging of my hammer against the chisel and/or chalk chunks cause hearing damage and thus tinnitus over time? 3-What kind of hearing protection do you recommend? Is what I am using ok? BONUS QUESTION-Any recommendations for padded gloves to get?