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bose-headphonesBoeing employees have a new rule to follow while working: No more headphones.

New safety measures implemented later this month will ban the use of headphones for Boeing employees working in operations, production and transportation areas, according to

That’s not all, though. Employees in those areas must now answer work-related phone calls while standing in one place or use a hands-free method to take a call. If it’s a non-work related call, then Boeing employees must go to a designated area to answer, unless it’s an emergency.

boeing11A Boeing spokesperson told MyNorthwest that the rules are all about safety in the workplace and referenced “situational awareness.”

This is certainly an interesting issue. During my first job working at a small grocery market, I would occasionally listen to music while washing dishes or skewering raw meat and vegetables — the bosses didn’t mind, and it actually helped me stay focused. But when I rang up the cashier or greeted customers, my managers didn’t like seeing those white iPod earbuds. 

What are your thoughts? Should employers allow headphones in the workplace?

Update, 6:45 p.m.: We reached out to Boeing about the new rules, and here’s the statement the company gave us:

“Boeing cares about the safety and well-being of its employees and is committed to a workplace where every person who works at or visits Boeing property leaves each day as healthy as when they arrived.

To continue being proactive in preventing injuries and incidents, Boeing is implementing new, company-wide standards for safety glasses, high-visibility/reflective wear and the use of electronic devices, including headphones. As of the middle of April, listening to music using ear buds or headphones is not allowed when walking or working in operations, production and transportation areas. This does not affect radios.

These standards strengthen workplace safety practices, promote situational awareness of risk, and reflect industry best practices.

The new standards apply to all individuals on Boeing property including visitors, customers, contractors, suppliers and others, and all Boeing employees performing work off Boeing property, unless superseded by local policy.”

Update, 8:05 p.m.: Boeing spokeswoman Katie Zemtseff told us that the smartphone rules also apply if someone is driving or biking in Boeing parking lots. The rules aren’t just for calls, either — those that are texting must also stand in place while in an operations, environment or transportation area

“The changes improve safety at Boeing and drive consistency throughout the company,” Zemtseff said.

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