Can Walmart Employees Wear Airpods – Here’s The Policy

Wearing headphones or AirPods while doing monotonous tasks can increase productivity and make time pass faster. When working at a retail store like Walmart, especially before open hours or during slower times, having something playing in your ear can improve one’s mood. But, can Walmart employees wear AirPods? 

Company policy for Walmart prohibits employees from wearing headphones. This is for safety and communication reasons, though each store’s management team may have some leniency with enforcing this policy. 

Keep reading to learn more about Walmart’s earbud policy and how it might affect the workers. 

What is Walmart’s policy on wearing AirPods while working? 

Walmart’s official policy discourages using headphones, earbuds, or AirPods while working, citing safety and communication issues as their primary reasoning. When working with heavy machinery and in loud environments, it is essential to maintain a level of focus and to be able to hear if anything is going on in the background.

This can range from coworkers or management attempting to communicate or even if an emergency alarm is going off that may not be heard had the employee had one or two earbuds in place.

On the sales floor, the employee must be able to hear pages over the store’s intercom and customer questions and maintain mindfulness of their surroundings to keep a safe and orderly environment for both the customers and the employees.

Listening to music or having other distractions can keep the employee from effectively doing their job, which does not typically go over well with management in most places, regardless of how lax a manager may be with the company’s policy.

The store’s use of radio or music playing over the intercom speakers at a reasonable volume is allowed so long as the volume is not impeding communication between workers and does not interfere with the ability to work safely and effectively. 

Just to be clear, if something is discouraged by policy, it doesn’t necessarily mean every store’s management will follow, much to the chagrin of corporate offices.

Many employees recount that while headphones or earbuds are not technically allowed, each store is different and may be more easygoing with this policy, such as allowing one earbud to be in while working on the floor or any position that is not immediately customer-facing, such as the cashiers.

Other store management may allow both earbuds to be used if they are in the backroom and not working around or with any heavy machinery. 

It’s always a good idea to follow policy or explicitly get permission from higher-ups when it comes to issues that relate to safety and communication, such as headphone or earbud use. 

Are earbuds an OSHA violation? 

According to OSHA, there are no specific regulations against wearing headphones or earbuds. Some work environments above a certain decibel level require earplugs to be worn, but the extra decibels added when listening to music can impede one’s ability to hear their surroundings, posing a safety hazard. 

Certain accidents where the employee was wearing earbuds can lead to citations given to the workers or termination, depending on the accident’s severity. It is also not in the employee’s best interest to be using headphones or earbuds while operating heavy machinery because if the employee gets harmed in an accident they caused, the workman’s compensation may not pay out because of the use of earbuds during the accident. 

While OSHA does not directly regulate them, they pose a potential safety hazard. It is the employer’s job to establish rules and regulations to prevent these accidents. 

What happens if you get caught wearing AirPods at Walmart? 

Again, this depends upon the management team and their leniency on the company’s “no earbud” policy. Under management strictly following this policy, the violation can lead to termination if the employee is caught with an earbud or two on their shift, excluding meal breaks. At the very least, a write-up may be for this violation. 

Stores which do not mind or have “exceptions” put into place are not likely to reprimand the worker or adjust their store’s leniency unless something happens, like an accident involving heavy machinery because the worker was wearing headphones and couldn’t hear what was going on around them.

In these cases, termination may be applicable, or at the very least, disciplinary actions are taken against the employee. The company’s policy may be more strictly enforced at that particular store. 

Additionally, if the store’s management chooses to look the other way on earbud use but corporate employees come to visit the store, the corporate representatives may take disciplinary action against the employee and management as well if enough employees are caught breaking policy, which could lead to more strict company-wide enforcement of the policy. 

Final Thoughts

While wearing AirPods or earbuds throughout a shift can make the time go by faster and make the workday overall more enjoyable, it’s important to consider the fact that regardless of your store’s take on the policy, it is still a company policy with the potential for consequences if it is broken. 

In addition to the possible ramifications it can have for employment, there is also the safety aspect that should be respected, as even having one AirPod in can reduce the amount of hearing and awareness of one’s surroundings.

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