Wearing Earbuds at Work Poses Safety HazardsJanuary 10, 2020
If you are going for a run, doing a load of laundry, or mowing the lawn, putting in a pair of earbuds is a great way to pass the time while listening to your favorite music, a podcast, or an audiobook. However, if you work at a construction site, a busy warehouse, or a manufacturing plant, you may want to reconsider before grabbing your earbuds and drowning out the sound around you. There are currently no specific laws regulating the use of earbuds in the workplace, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes that wearing these devices in certain work environments could be hazardous. As a result, the agency has come up with a list of guidelines that employers should adopt to ensure a safe work environment for all employees.
Depending on the specific job that you are required to do, you may be responsible for operating heavy machinery, using sharp tools, or transporting heavy cargo from one location to another. When performing these jobs, it is crucial that you are aware of your surroundings, and that you can hear all emergency alerts, warning signals, or another worker letting you know they are in the vicinity. If you are wearing earbuds, it will be difficult for you to hear these important warning signals, which can result in potentially devastating workplace accidents.
Popularity of Sony Walkman Leads to OSHA Hearing Protection Standards
OSHA first considered safety hazards related to these types of devices when the Sony Walkman first became popular. In 1987, OSHA determined that the use of headphones was a violation of OSHA hearing protection standards if the following was true:
- The noise level is more than 85 decibels in an eight-hour day.
- Earphones are worn over hearing protection devices.
OSHA left it up to the managers’ discretion as to whether employees could use earphones when other hearing protection is not required. However, in certain circumstances, OSHA recognized that wearing audio devices in certain work environments and carrying out certain responsibilities could endanger workers. For example, OSHA strongly discourages workers from wearing audio devices when working near vehicles or equipment.
OSHA Safety Recommendations
- Employees who work in manufacturing facilities or warehousing or supply areas should not be allowed to wear earbuds or other hearing devices.
- Individuals who work in an office setting may use earbuds, but not when walking or leaving their desk.
- Employees may not wear earbuds over or underneath hearing protection.
- When operating equipment or performing any other work, employees should not be on their smartphones. If using the phone for something work-related, they must stay clear of all vehicles, forklifts, bicycles, or pedestrian walkways.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Workers Injured on the Job
If you were injured at work while wearing earbuds, you are urged to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Employers should discourage workers from wearing earbuds, particularly when operating machinery or using heavy equipment as this can increase a risk for workplace accidents. Our dedicated legal team will walk you through the claims process and ensure that you receive the full financial benefits you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.