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Headphones/Earbuds in the shop1/7/20
Where do most shop owners stand on headphones in the shop?
We have a crew of over 20 people, heavy machinery, forklifts, and many operate in teams. There are task that are mundane and out of the main path. We require full time hearing protection, but there is always someone either asking to where ear buds for menial task or sneaking them under the hoodie. I personally don't like anything about it from being a huge liability to personally just being old fashioned! Then I get the argument well it's just in one ear. I'm about to lower the boom again but thought I'd poll the audience.
Before you 'lower the boom" like a bad ass boss... maybe you ought to spend a few days in your employees shoes doing those remedial jobs that puts $ in your pocket. Would you want to hear some music to break up your day? Maybe you would boost moral, boost production and gain employee loyalty by doing those remedial jobs with them. Maybe you already do that.. I don't know. Happy employees are more productive. Can they still produce with them in? What does insurance say? Don't mean to be a jerk in the response but "Lower the boom" just sounds extremely arrogant.
Hmmm, arrogant, really?
I am considering my employees, well a few of them, otherwise I wouldn't have posted this here. I know what my safety consultant said, and I know what is in OSHA's guidelines and all point to not only no, but HELL no. As verified by John's harsh reply, it is just so prevalent in today's world I thought I would ask the question.
After posting this and cruising around the net, it's very interesting what the studies say. Some of the points in favor are definitely employee beneficial, however the harsh reality is it is a detriment to production and isolates interaction from fellow coworkers. The cons far out weigh the pros. However at the end of the day taking liability and safety concerns at the top of the list it's an easy answer, and that is no earbuds in the shop.
As to personally wanting music blaring in my ear, never. Every process I have ever done in woodworking from the mundane to butt puckering, it all emanates a sound that tells you everything is good. When that sound changes look out!
Much smaller shop here but I have always been of the same mindset and am probably even more arrogant in that I rarely even play music in the shop (radio) but a lot of that has to do with your workforce.
I have personally watched quality and attention spans go in the ditch with music or earbuds and while I dont like being nasty about it there are enough mistakes made when the sole focus is on the work much less when singing along to your favorite tune. Then you add in the distraction of music, changing stations, being preoccupied with the notification "ding" that youve got someone messaging you or FB or whatever.. Its probably more of a time drain checking the phone than a smoker lighting up a couple drags while headed out to the dumpster (another I dont allow).
I envy the shops with crews that perform well along with all those distractions but unfortunately Ive never gotten there and Im not a hard a** in the shop, completely the opposite. But I have seen the glazed eyes, looking off in the distance, the minute the music starts or the earbuds go in, and I have closely watched the mis-sanded parts, and the laughing, hooping, etc. that often times comes along with it.
Ive been doing this type of work 30 years and of course carry the burden of a brain filled with all the other aspects of the shop ontop of working and I regularly remind myself to focus completely on my work. Other than certain tasks I wouldnt even trust myself to have some percentage of my attention focused on music, a podcast, or audio book.
I still have ten fingers and ten toes and with full attention that could change at any second but I dont aim to tamper with the odds.
Many years ago I posted a question here asking what people thought I should do with an otherwise good employee who had lied to me about a major detail when I first interviewed him. The replies were varied but the one that sticks in my mind was much like the first response here. The person ran me up and down for being so arrogant that I might even consider firing that person for lying. That struck me as coming from someone who only saw the world through an employee's eyes......and that is being kind. My reaction to that first response here is the same. Doesn't mean I'm right but that is what crossed my mind.
There are reasons ear buds are prohibited in many environments such as work and road races. Thy include distraction from the task at hand and interference with the ability to be aware of everything going on around you. That endangers not only the person wearing the ear buds but also all those around that person.
I always felt that wearing only one earbud wasn't so bad but my wife, who is the consummate competitive runner gave me an earful when I mentioned that just the other day. Even one earbud can be enough of a distraction to put oneself in danger out on the roads with texting drivers whizzing by.
In my company we had a radio on all day. It wasn't loud enough to hear over machinery but when the machines were quiet there was background music in the shop. However.......giant eye roll from many here.......it was always classical music. No toe tapping tunes that we all listened to outside of work and no talk radio. Both those could be significant distractions. Classical put some (usually) calming background music in the shop without the distraction. New guys would typically not understand any of this until they'd been around awhile but eventually became accustomed to the environment.
AM, You didn't say if there is a shop radio or not. If there is, replacing it with one earbud would be a big improvement for anyone that is not in charge of the radio. Listening to other people's music in a shop all day is soul killing.
If you really want to lower the boom, and don't want to hoist anyone from the yardarm, the use of earbuds could be a productivity reward.
We have many different work areas spread out over 35,000sq ft. That being said only two radios play during the day and far enough apart they don't clash. I also in my arrogant money grabbing ways have a firm understanding with the crew, radios won't overpower running equipment so don't try!! If I can't walk up to you and converse in a normal voice it's too loud. Second part to that is if it becomes radio wars over the genre of music, out they go! I have had issues with this and some folks over the years but we seem to be at a happy medium currently.
Great responses and really just confirms the obvious, sometimes you just need to hear it again.
Not that we allow it at our facility, but I do know of some smaller shops that allow their employees to wear a safety/noise canceling headphone that has Bluetooth. I personally don't have a problem with a radio that everyone is listening to because it still promotes communication. I think when someone, or everyone, is listening to their music and has their phone with them, there is a higher chance for error in performance and a higher chance of getting injured. Just my two cents on the situation.
Was at a Ferrari dealership once, in the repair area. Everyone had pristine white jumpsuits on and Italian opera was playing in the background.
Small shop. Four guys.
I personally work better with music or a podcast going.
We don't have radios in the shop, but I do allow earbuds. I hate listening to other's terrible taste in music, and I'm certain nobody wants to listen to my horrible choices.
Half of us listen to something, half don't and just use hearing protection. I'm of the opinion, if you can't handle it, or know when the time to turn it down is so you can hear something clearly, you aren't smart enough to be in my shop.
I use ear buds that double as hearing protection, there's plenty of times, all they are is hearing protection, as I'm not listening to anything, or it's very quietly playing.
It could be argued and justified any way you like, that's just my opinion.
I would agree with John, the days of lower the boom leadership are long gone. That will never work with the younger generations.
Numerous good responses on this one. Yet many are standing strongly on what they believe to be right. It is always good to stand on what one believes right, but what if one is wrong. I used to believe that work was better with music. However, scientific evidence has proved that the human brain can only process one item at a time. You can not add one and one at the same time that you try to write something. Google multitasking or "can the brain process more than one thing at a time". The brain is extremely fast...a great creation, but it can only process one item at a time. It can switch process quickly but cannot focus on two things at the same time. This all means that if you are listening to music and working your brain is constantly switching from music to the task on hand...one at a time. Milliseconds at a time. It is during these quick changes that we miss things and our work is sub par or we get injured. I love my classic rock but turn it off when I am working.
Thomas - What was that? I missed it - listening to John Prine.
I know it is hard to argue with science or different studies , unless the study is wether or not coffee or eggs are good for you?
David, That is funny, real funny. Thanks for the response, a great pick me up....Love John Prine.....
Over here in the Uk, most places Iíve worked at have had a radio/cds playing in the workshop.
Couldnít you consider letting people use them in specific circumstances? When and where they are out of the way of any major hazards, like standing at a bench sanding?