Ear Buds Where & When

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about protection of hearing:

I know it is against regulations to wear ear buds on MHE equipment. I had a question asked today on where are they OK to wear. I told them not on MHE equipment or in high traffic areas. I told them if they were working where no traffic came then it was OK to wear. Now, I am asked to do a safety meeting at work. Is there any information about the “wheres” ear buds can be worn at work?
Signed, Where & When
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Dear Where & When:
We’ve had many questions regarding noise in the workplace. That is a special area of expertise that OSHA consultants provide; it’s not ours, but we try as apparently you will in your upcoming safety meeting. Below several of our Q&As are referenced.

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No Longer Radios Where We Work

A question submitted to Ask the Workplace Doctors about radios being prohibited:
I work for a company the makes hydraulic cylinders. The business has been around since the 70’s and radios have always been allowed. The shop has been part of the USW since the 80’s and now they have implemented a hearing conservation program and have posted that all radios have to be removed and are prohibited from further use. There has been no bargaining with the union on this matter. What can we do?
Signed Radios Off

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Is It Illegal to Play Music in the Warehouse?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about laws regarding listening to music while working:

Me and like 98% of my co-workers have no problem with music being played as long as it’s quiet enough to hear everything else around for obvious safety reasons. Our lead hand, who sort of abuses authority, tells us all the time “no music in the warehouse it’s against the law. So we’re forced to turn them off. I’m in Vancouver Canada B.C. and I’m just wondering if it really is against the law or is he just saying this?
Signed Forced Turned Off

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Federal (OSHA) Rules About Radios At Work?

A question about radios being used in the workplace.

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Question:

Are there OSHA rules about using radios at work?

Response from Ask the Workplace Doctors: 

Check our archives under Music and Noise at Work, to see some of the many questions and responses in the past, about this issue.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is part of the Department of Labor and regulates many aspects of workplace safety. https://www.osha.gov/ Each state also has a department of labor and related occupational safety groups. They would be your best source for information about your specific situation.

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Music and Machinery–What Are the Problems

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about music and machines:

We are a workplace that has employees working with machinery. While operating the machinery employees like to listen to music and many times the music is louder than the machines. What are the cons in having the employees listen to music while working on machinery?

Signed, Ringing Ears

Dear Ringing Ears:

We are often asked about music at work. Employees usually want to know how to justify being able to listen to music or they complain about the choice of music. Employers usually are concerned about the potential negative effect on work or, as you mentioned, on safety. There is a particular concern when headsets are used, but I think you are referring to overhead music. Many people think that music lightens their attitude and their work. The kind of music a work group picks to listen to usually reflects their ages, backgrounds and away-from-work listening habits.

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Music and Productivity?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about music and productivity:

How music can increase productivity of an employee?

Signed, Music Works?

Dear Music Works?:

If you do a search on our Archive by typing the word music in the window provided, you will find a host of questions that evolve about music in the workplace. Rather than repeat advice we’ve sent, I suggest you scan the Q&As that you access and in particular to the question # 3809: Listening To Music While Working http://www.workplacedoctors.com/wpdocs/qdetail.asp?id=3809 Please feel free to share why you ask and what is your experience in answer to your own question. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and I predict music both helps create that and is an outgrowth of it.

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The Public and Glass Partitions

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about hearing customers:

We have problems at work hearing our customers as there is a glass partition between. We have conversations with the general public but find it hard to hear so we have to talk much louder. A few of our staff have ear problems, possibly that can be the cause.

Signed, What’s That You’re Saying?

Dear What’s That You’re Saying?:

Your annoyance springs from our glass society; one that seeks protection from its public. One rant you might scan concludes with “Glass society: have sledgehammer, will shatter” http://archive.truthout.org/glass-society-the-partitioning-prisoning-and-privatizing-public-life59213. Ideally there is no glass between us; yet there are good reasons for some glass partitions. Such barriers are especially frustrating for those with disabilities of hearing, sight and/or of a physical nature. Obviously, to serve your public your staff needs to hear what is spoken to you and by it to them. You don’t say if there is an opening in the glass partition. I assume there is in order to receive and send written messages or money. You say that some staff have hearing problems, but you imply that all of you tend raise your voices so that you might be heard.

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Lingering Outside My Office

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about noise outside one’s office:

I work in a courthouse. My office sits right across the hallway from a courtroom in a tight, narrow hallway. My office door must remain closed and locked at all times due to security reasons involving personal files kept inside, so even when I’m in the office I have to keep the door closed. The problem is that people tend to linger in the hallway outside my office. For some reason this has become a common loiter area for people to park and carry on conversation.

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Personal Radios

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about OSHA and radios:

Is there an OSHA regulation that radios in the workplace need to be grounded or have a three-prong grounded electrical cord?

Signed, Want To Know

Dear Want To Know:

Radios in the workplace would not need to have a three prong grounded electrical cord as long as they are UL listed and approved. The standard 1910.305(g)(6)(vii)(B) states that equipment need not be grounded if it is a listed and labeled portable tool or appliance, if protected by an approved system of double insulation, or its equivalent, and distinctively marked. Exceptions to this could apply if the device was being used on a wet or a metal floor, or some other hazardous location.

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A Loud Political Insider

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about coworker with loud political opinions:

By the way, I love the Workplace Doctors Column. I’ve been reading it for a few years now, but I never thought I’d be asking a question, so here goes. I’ve never dealt with a situation quite like this in more than 20 years of office-type work. I’ve been located in all different types of work environments (in open-office work areas, regular cubes, regular offices) and I’ve successfully worked alongside many different types of people. But never one quite like this. Within the past several months, an employee from another section within my division moved to the office next to me. By the way, these are technically offices, but the walls are very, very thin. Even when a person next to you closes his/her door, you can basically hear everything. So, the gentleman who moved next to me is a senior staff member (once in a management position) who is quite loud, in general.

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