There's No Such Thing as "OSHA Approved" Headphones

Posted on 1/21/2020 by Roger Marks

In an interpretation letter dated September 6, 2019, OSHA answers an employer’s question about the use of headphones in the workplace.

The employer requested clarification about whether headphones equipped with a built-in volume limiter are allowed on a construction site.

In the interpretation, OSHA gives some common-sense advice about the use of headphones in the workplace. While there is no specific OSHA standard that prohibits headphones on a job site, workers listening to music can create a safety hazard. If the employee’s music masks sounds like alarms, moving equipment, machinery, traffic, danger signals, or verbal warnings, the results could be tragic.

In addition, OSHA clarifies that “a portable music player is not a substitute for hearing protection…”

Are My Headphones OSHA Approved?

With respect to the “OSHA approved” or “100% OSHA compliant” claims found on some products, OSHA makes it abundantly clear that
the Agency “does not register, certify, approve, or otherwise endorse commercial or private sector entities, products, or services. Therefore, any such claims by a manufacturer are misleading.”

While this specific interpretation was a response to a question about OSHA’s noise exposure rules for construction sites (29 CFR 1926.52), OSHA also enforces hearing protection requirements for general industry workplaces. OSHA requires annual training for employees exposed to noise at or above an 8-hour time-weighted-average (TWA) of 85 decibels (see 29 CFR 1910.95).  

Long term exposure to loud or high-pitched noise can cause irreversible damage to employees’ hearing. In environments where employees are exposed to noise above permissible limits, employers should implement a proper hearing protection program that includes employee monitoring and notifications, audiometric testing, hearing protection, training, and recordkeeping.

For more information about who needs a hearing protection program, see Question of the Week: Hearing Conservation.

Earlier this month, OSHA increased civil penalties for violations of workplace safety standards. 

OSHA Safety Training

Check out to find safety training to inform and protect your workforce. From 10-hour training for general industry workers to HazComHAZWOPER, and more, Lion offers courses that are informative and easy-to-use. 

The latest new courses include:

Tags: headphones, hearing conservation, hearing protection, osha, workplace safety

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

The course was very well structured and covered the material in a clear, concise manner.

Ian Martinez

Hazmat Shipping Professional

This is the best RCRA training I've experienced! I will be visiting Lion training again.

Cynthia L. Logsdon

Principal Environmental Engineer

I really enjoyed this training. Even after years on both sides of the comprehension coin, I find myself still learning! The quality of the delivery exceeded much of the training I have received in the past.

Neil Ozonur

Safety Officer

We have a very busy work schedule and using Lion enables us to take the course at our own time. It makes it easy for me to schedule my employees' training.

Timothy Mertes

Hazmat Shipping Professional

The online course was well thought out and organized, with good interaction between the student and the course.

Larry Ybarra

Material Release Agent

These are the best classes I attend each year. I always take something away and implement improvements at my sites.

Kim Racine

EH&S Manager

Excellent course. Very interactive. Explanations are great whether you get the questions wrong or right.

Gregory Thompson

Environmental, Health & Safety Regional Manager

No comparison. Lion has the best RCRA training ever!!

Matt Sabine

Environmental Specialist

Convenient; I can train when I want, where I want.

Barry Cook

Hazmat Shipping Professional

I love that the instructor emphasized the thought process behind the regs.

Rebecca Saxena

Corporate Product Stewardship Specialist

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

Get to know the top 5 changes to OSHA’s revised GHS Hazard Communication Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200 and how the updates impacts employee safety at your facility.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.