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OSHA has published a guidance letter stating that, while legal, it is not advisable for workers to use headphones to listen to music on a construction site, Lexology reports. There is no specific OSHA regulation prohibiting the use of headphones, but even the use of headphones marketed as "OSHA approved" poses risks at a site.

That does not mean employers can avoid citations for resulting hazards. OSHA warned, “Listening to music may produce a safety hazard by masking environmental sounds that need to be heard, especially on active construction sites where attention to moving equipment, heavy machinery, vehicle traffic, and safety warning signals may be compromised.” This is concerning because, according to OSHA, “struck-by hazards are one of the four leading causes of death in construction.”

The agency added there is no such thing as “OSHA compliant” headphones because OSHA does not “register, certify, approve, or otherwise endorse commercial or private sector … products.” Therefore, the agency continued, claims that any headphones are approved by OSHA “are misleading.”

An employer that allows construction or manufacturing workers to listen to music using headphones or earbuds could be cited under the “general duty clause” of the Occupational Safety and Health Act if an employee is injured because he or she could not hear approaching machinery. The general duty clause requires employers to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious harm to employees.

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