Universiteit Leiden

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Safety at work....headphones?

I would like to start with my “personal safety risk”. In the last years I noticed it is becoming more accepted to listen to music using earphones in the hallways, offices and laboratories. But how does this affect our safety and should we accept this?

Headphones are aimed to create an intimate experience with your music, and tries to remove all barriers between you and that sound. In essence, headphones take away your direct dependence of ambient sound, which may also serve as a warning.

For instance, you will be unaware of important “safety markers” like the hissing sound of a gas leak, or that someone might faint just behind you. 

Especially the prevention of hearing an audible evacuation warning-signal might also lead to severe disadvantages in times of evacuation. In these situations, every second counts! One can imagine the frustration when evacuation teams might have to use precious time to actively look for "intimate music lovers".

Jacco van Veldhoven

The risk-assessment of the use of headphones is especially important in laboratories or any other area where people work with potentially harmful biological, chemical or other substances. For those situations it is highly recommended to inform direct colleagues about the use of head-phones, and confer with the direct floor-manager or supervisor prior to use them in such a workplace.

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