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Friday's Ask the Experts: Custodians and music

February 13, 2009
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Friday''s Ask the Experts question from a cleaning professional on the International Custodial Advisors Network (ICAN) "Ask the Experts" page: Should employees or contractors be allowed to listen to music while working? Some of the music has been offensive and the employees were warned that they are prohibited from listening to music with profanity. Some employees say they are more productive when listening to music, others say it violates their privacy.
The answer:
Part of a custodian’s responsibility is building security as well as safety (including the individual’s). Listening to loud music often impedes the ability to hear other folks in the vicinity (someone calling out for help, for instance), plus it may prevent the custodian from hearing a fire alarm or other type of disaster alert. If someone is summoning the custodian from the office (even in the evening), the custodian may not hear the signal. My recommendation is to discourage a custodian from listening to music when working alone. In a team setting, or when stripping and refinishing a large floor with several custodians working together, playing non-offensive music may be permissible. Then you have the issue of what is non-offensive and what if each cleaner likes... — Perry Shimanoff
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