Radios In The Workplace

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about radio stations:

Can one listen to radio stations at work?

Signed, Wondering

Dear Wondering:

We have several questions in our archives about the use of radios or other music at work. Most workplaces have rules about music, and those usually involve requirements about not disturbing others, not distracting from work, not creating a safety problem or other issues related to the type of work and the work setting. One opinion is that work is for work and not for entertainment. If someone says they don’t really hear the music, then they don’t need it. If they like to listen to the music and the ads and the talking by the announcer, then they are being distracted from work, even if just a little bit.Another opinion is that for work can be made more enjoyable with background music. And, it can be pointed out that most stores have music in the background, so why not offices or other settings?

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Ad That Never Stops!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about repeated ads:

I work for an electrical retailer, in the warehouse. A Sky HD advertisement has been on repeat for the past two months! If you turn it off, it turns off all speakers in the shop. The other staff play music over it downstairs but I work upstairs and there is no power. Is it illegal to play the advertisement on repeat? It’s making me feel down all the time and I’ve told the managers plenty of times. All they say is that it has to be on but surely there is a way around it? Please get back to me ASAP because all the staff at my store will soon be going bonkers.

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Drum Noise Is Creating Stress and Headaches!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about drumming close to where you work:

I have worked in a school for 22 years. The music teacher won a grant for many drums and has now incorporated this into her curriculum. The noise bothered teachers in 2 different sections of the school. She was moved to a variety of spaces, and now is drumming close to me.I find it not only distracting, but noticed last week that I had headaches a few days. I never get a headache!In my opinion, this is a change in my working conditions. Do I have a case here to get it to stop? I like my job. Thanks for any help.  RN

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Earpods Or Protective Gear

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about earpods:

Are there OSHA laws or state rules regarding wearing earpods or earphones during work hours? We have banned them but employees continue to do so anyway.

Signed, He Who Has Ears To Hear

Dear He Who Has Ears To Hear:

As I understand your question. “Are there OSHA regulations regarding the requirements of earplugs or earphones during work?” Yes, decibel ratings establish the use of them. They are a requirement because you may go deaf with loud noises and this prevents the person, who may work without wearing ear protective gear from claiming the company made me deaf. If you are supposed to wear them, then wear them. If you are talking about earphones or earplugs and listening to your iPod or radio – then you cannot wear them, if management dictates it as a safety precaution. Life is much simpler if you play and work by the rules.

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Saturday Night Music

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about radio over PA:

I work permanent nights. Each and every night we have a radio playing through our PA system for entertainment. There is around 100 staff on site at any time. The problem is on Saturday nights; we have to listen to trance music that is very, very disrupting, annoying and causes me to lose concentration. The majority of staff does not like it, but because it was voted in a few months ago, it has to stay on. A manager, some days ago, changed the channel because of all the complaints. He has since been disciplined. What is your advice about this music?

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Talk Radio In The Workplace.

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about talk radio in the workplace:

It would seem that listening to talk radio in the workplace would adversely affect productivity. Because you are listening to one or more speakers conveying information that you must consciously pay attention to, that therefore interferes with your work. Is this a reasonable conclusion?

Signed, Reasonable?

Dear Reasonable?:

You are probably correct if the worker’s task is complex. If the task is routine, talk radio might not interfere. Management makes policy around this common sense rationale. We have had many questions about listening to radio while working. Rules pertaining to radio listening in the workplace most importantly hinge on safety. You can check our Archives, for example: Are There OSHA Rules About Radios?

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Is There A Rule Against Mp3players?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about listening to MP3:

I drive a reach truck forklift. Is there a general rule out there to say I can’t listen to my MP 3 player in the workplace?

Signed, I Like Music

Dear I Like Music:

No, there is no general rule. The general rule, however, is that you are hired to do a job, not to listen to the radio. You might not like that rule. But that’s the way it is and your employer has the right and obligation to make reasonable rules that enable you to see and hear what is going on. I’m sure you don’t want someone driving on the highway while applying makeup, talking on their cell phones or texting.

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Rap Music Played In The Workplace

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about rap music:

One person brings in her own radio and plays rap music. I have asked that she not play it at the times that I am in the same room, but she refuses. Rap music has an emotional reaction from me and it makes me anxious and very uncomfortable. Do I have the right to not have this person play rap music in the workplace?

Signed, Frustrated

Dear Frustrated:

In a well run business, individuals do not just decide to bring in music of any kind on their own and play it. It’s either approved by managers or not. And few managers would approve having rap sounds in the work area if anyone at all complained. But, there is also a problem here with the relationship between you and the coworker. Someone who feels like a friend or good colleague wouldn’t play something when asked not to, or would at least ask more about it and try to work out a compromise. I think you should say something to your manager or supervisor. Make the link to work effectiveness by saying how distracting it is and that it makes you anxious and uncomfortable. You are certainly not alone in feeling that way! Be direct and insistent that it is intolerable. But, also ask that the policy be that no music is played or that any music played must be agreed to by all. Otherwise, your coworker will replace rap with something not rap but equally problematic!

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Are There OSHA Rules About Radios?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about radios:

Does OSHA prohibit personal radios?

Signed, Wondering


Dear Wondering:

There are no OSHA regulations related to the use of personal radios, except as it might relate to hearing safety in environments where ear protection must be used. Some state OSHA material discourages the use of earphones and earbuds in jobs where it is important for employees to be able to hear a variety of tones and sounds clearly.You may want to check with your state OSHA, since they are often more easily contacted with questions of this nature.

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Chewing Noises That Won’t Stop

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about chewing noises:

I work in a quiet office environment where cubicles are situated side by side. The gal next to me eats food, chews gum and hard candies all day long. I believe she may have a medical condition because she seemingly has to have some sort of substance in her mouth most of the day.I am unable to concentrate because the sounds drive me absolutely nuts. She is a really nice gal and we don’t talk too often so it’s hard for me to mention this problem to her. Neither one of us are social butterflies and I’m sure it will create an awkward situation that may not be worth it. She is literally driving me to hate my job so I’m seeking advice to how I can address this issue to her without sounding too harsh or inconsiderate myself.

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