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Can Earbuds Increase the Risk of a Workplace Accident?

Earbuds

Earbuds have become increasingly popular among millenials and post-millenials — some of whom listen to music, audiobooks, and podcasts while at work. This may not be problematic in some occupations, ESH Today reports that they can be hazardous in high-risk industries. These include manufacturing, construction, warehousing and transportation, among several other occupations.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, earbuds make it difficult for workers to:

  • Hear emergency alerts
  • Be aware of their surroundings
  • Maintain adequate safety consciousness

Should employers prohibit earbuds?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hasn't yet issued any regulations on the use of earbuds in the workplace. The federal agency considered the hazards of earphones in the 1980s when the Sony Walkman became popular, however.

OSHA asserted that earphone use constituted a violation of its hearing protection standards under these conditions:

  • Workplace noise levels are 85 decibels or more throughout an eight-hour shift, thereby requiring hearing protection.
  • Workers wear earphones over hearing protection devices.

It's otherwise up to management to decide whether or not workers can use earphones. OSHA cautions against using earphones or earbuds when working around heavy machinery or conveyors, however. In addition, workers need to be able to hear audible warnings relating to electrical, chemical, and fire hazards.

What should employers do to prevent workplace accidents?

EHS Today offers this advice to manufacturing employers:

  • Employers should prohibit workers from using earbuds.
  • Employees who work in office settings should be prohibited from using earbuds while walking or leaving their desks.
  • Workers should never wear earbuds over hearing protection devices.
  • Even without earbuds, employees should be prohibited from using cellphones when working around heavy machinery.

What should I do if I'm injured in a workplace accident?

The use of earbuds or earphones in the workplace could lead to a myriad of incidents. Someone could be:

  • Struck by a forklift
  • Injured by a conveyor machine that suddenly turns on
  • Burned due to a fire or electrical hazard
  • Hit by falling inventory

Injured workers in New Jersey have the right to pursue workers' compensation benefits after a workplace accident. The cost and duration of medical treatment may be overwhelming. Moreover, lost days at work and wage loss can make matters worse.

The attorneys at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC can help you receive the appropriate medical care and get the benefits you need. Our legal team has helped injured workers in Cherry Hill and throughout New Jersey since 1995. We will always put you first.

Contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

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