It is not at all uncommon for employees to want to listen to music while at their workplace.
At certain times, the right tunes can be really helpful in reducing the stress that one often encounters on the job.
However, there are certain occupations and working environments where it is imperative that a person stays alert at all times and avoids any kind of distraction.
Certain professions and environments – such as working in a railway yard or on a construction site – can mean that workers are exposed to a variety of risks.
These kinds of jobs require listening to specific commands and instructions. Being unable to hear these crucial directions can lead to fatal accidents and even death.
As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA for short) has mandated strict guidelines for the use of earbuds in the workplace.
For many people, the ultimate question now remains…
Are AirPods OSHA approved?
In short, AirPods are not a device that meets OSHA standards. This is mainly due to the fact that AirPods have noise cancellation properties.
AirPods have three kinds of settings when it comes to noise cancellation:
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Transparency Mode
These options allow the user to choose how much environmental noise they want to let in through the headphones.
However, most users choose to cancel any and all kinds of surrounding sounds, and that can be a problem while working in high-risk environments.
Consequently, OSHA has not deemed AirPods as fit for use in the workplace.
While OSHA currently set the official guidelines for noise-canceling headphones in the workplace, it is still up to each employer and/or organization to determine the permissibility of such devices.
What Does OSHA Say About Earbuds?
It isn’t that OSHA doesn’t allow the use of any kind of headphones on a construction site or similarly hazardous workplace.
For workplaces that require OSHA certification – such as construction sites, railway operations, or shipping yards – the authorities are required to adhere to strict guidelines.
In such cases, earphones that are capable of both music streaming and hearing protection are allowed in workplaces regulated by OSHA.
These unique headphones are made with a built-in volume limiter, which ensures that the volume of music cannot exceed a certain level and thus prevents the user’s ability to drown out surrounding noise.
OSHA is extremely careful about ensuring the compliance of correct headphone use. Anybody who does not follow the regulations is held accountable.
Therefore, adherence to regulation 29-CFR is required to be maintained at all times. Failure to do so is prohibited and can be reported.
Specific OSHA regulation also dictates that employees should also make sure not to wear earphones that cover any aural protective devices already provided to them.
This is due to the fact that the combined effect can drown out many types of surrounding sounds, such as crucial instructions.
There are severe penalties for not complying with OSHA rules if found guilty, and an offending organization may have to pay hefty fines as a result.
OSHA also prohibits the wearing of earbuds as earplugs. Sound reduction is often necessary in professions that deal with heavy noise exposure from heavy machinery or industrial work.
In such cases, the management will typically provide earbuds to workers for ear protection.
These earbuds will have isolation properties, which prevent hearing damage while also allowing for background noise to still be selectively audible.
Are AirPods Pro OSHA -Approved?
Like AirPods Max, AirPods Pro is also not approved by OSHA to be used in the workplace.
These earbuds contain noise-canceling properties that can eliminate all surrounding sound. This can easily become a health and safety risk.
For example, if a worker is listening to music while working at a great height and is at risk of falling, any words of warning from other coworkers will go completely unnoticed if noise-canceling headphones are worn.
This is dangerous not just for the employee – who could face serious injury and/or death – but also for the organization.
The repercussions of allowing such serious safety hazards in the workplace may end with a lawsuit, or even a compensation claim from the family members involved.
Of course, it is the responsibility of the company to ensure all the OSHA regulations are followed. This includes the strict prohibition of AirPods in the workplace, as well as all other headphones that do not meet OSHA’s guidelines.
If the employee still chooses to listen to music from non-approved earbuds without the knowledge of the organization, an unfortunate accident may potentially take place.
One should always take extreme caution when bringing noise cancellation earphones such as AirPods to the workplace.
Here are the key takeaways you should consider if you wish to use noise cancellation earphones at work:
- AirPods Max and AirPods Pro by Apple are not approved by OSHA.
- Such earphones can be potentially hazardous. They completely eliminate any surrounding noise such as warnings, signals, or other kinds of safety commands.
- OSHA has approved a few kinds of earphones to be used at the workplace, but AirPods are not one of them.
- It is the responsibility of the company to address the issue of using correct earphones in the workplace.
Employees should be reasonable and should refrain from doing anything that may be potentially dangerous to themselves or others.
If the company prohibits the use of non-approved earphones, then it’d be in the employees’ best interest to likewise refrain from using earphones such as AirPods in the workplace!
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