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.

read more

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 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.

read more

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” 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.

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more

Sound Therapy

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about affect of music:

Which songs improve my concentration and brain power?

Signed, Songs Can’t Be Wrong

Dear Songs Can’t Be Wrong:

Your question implies that you think certain types of music affect concentration and brain power. That is a popular impression that merits research and common sense experimentation. We make no claim as music researchers or therapists. As you know if you scan even a few of thousands of Q&As we have posted, our focus is on communication-related workplace matters. But because we frequently get questions like yours, we have investigated what is purported to affect employees’ attitude and performance.

read more

Effects Of Repetitious Music

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about repetitious music:

I work in a call centre where baroque music is played over and over on our headphones between calls. I’ve found that even after a few days away from work, the music is still playing over and over in my mind. I’ve had only one week’s exposure to this but am concerned about any long-terms effects. (And I like baroque music, but this has become overwhelming!)

Signed, Over and Over

Dear Over and Over:

Our site has responded to a few questions pertaining to music within the work environment; however we have not claimed expertise in this field. Our focus has been mostly on whether it distracts from work and/or is liked/disliked. You are fortunate to have music that you like.

read more

Listening to Music While Working At Fast Food Jobs

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about music  and food prep:

This question is about the whole productivity vs. listening to music question. I was wondering if you knew of any studies relating to food preparation jobs or more specifically fast food jobs.

Signed, Whistling While I Work

Dear Whistling While I Work:

I’m sorry, I don’t know of any specific studies about fast food restaurants and listening to music. I assume you’re referring to personal headsets not the overhead music that is heard in many fast food places anyway. We do have a number of questions about this in our archives, but many are in warehouse or similar settings. In addition, many are older and our opinions, as well as the opinions of some others, have changed somewhat about listening to personal music devices at work.

read more

Radios On The Workroom Floor

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about radios  while working:

What is the rule for radios being played on the work floor?

Signed, Turn It On Or Off

Dear Turn It On Or Off:

Rather than answer your question, since we get many like it, I’m forwarding the most recent answer by a guest respondent expert on safety, Robert Byers. His answer is posted and you can read the question if you scan our most recent questions. But even not reading that particular question, you should find his answer helpful: It is not illegal for the employees to wear earphones connected to a music source, but I certainly think it presents major OSHA concerns. The OSHA Hearing Conservation Standard states that employees that are exposed to more than 85 decibels over a time weighted period (TWA) would require the employer to establish a baseline audiogram report for each employee and then retest them each subsequent year, and record any standard threshold shift of 10 decibels or more in either ear on the OSHA 300 log. Then the employer would have to provide effective Personal Protective Equipment to dampen that noise. (after exhausting all engineering attempts to resolve the problem) I would suspect that in a sheetmetal shop, the noise level may very well already exceed that decibel level.

read more