Workers who use personal mobile phones on job sites present safety risks that contractors need to address. Many workers, especially younger ones, commonly connect ear buds or head phones to their phones to listen to music or podcasts in their off hours. Some listening devices equipped with sound-canceling features that block off noises from the outside world. If workers use these devices on the job site, workers can be completely tuned out to sound cues that alert them to hazards.
Some contractors ban these devices at work, but the issue is an ongoing concern because sometimes workers don’t realize they have listening devices in their ears when they enter the construction zone. There is no specific federal regulation that prohibits the use of headphones on a construction site, but OSHA issued a letter of interpretation that says headphone entertainment on a construction site is permissible at managerial discretion.
OSHA standards do require employers to protect employees’ ears with ear protective devices. Personal headphones or ear buds do not qualify as protective equipment, though.