Q: “My boss won’t let us listen to our iPods during work. We spend most of our time working alone, and listening to music helps break the monotony. I know that other operations let their employees use them, so how can I get my boss to let us do the same?”

A: Many companies are developing policies for their employees on the use of electronic devices during regular work duties. If your employer has developed such policies you might ask him to explain the reasons behind them, but be sure to adhere to whatever rules are currently in force. Remember that most policies are adopted for a specific reason or as the result of a particular problem in the past.

If your employer does not have these rules already outlined, or you feel that the current rules are out-of-date, recognize that a variety of issues influence how and why these policies are developed.

Some employers believe any device that has a cord, something that goes around the head or neck, or anything that can get caught in gates or other equipment is a significant hazard. Many employers have told me that they would let their employees use iPods and such if they would use them responsibly. They say that too often their employees are distracted by or too focused on the music as they work. One employer noted that he ended their use because employees had to be regularly reminded to shut them off during meetings — and even during one-on-one conversations.

There’s also the safety factor of not being able to hear a noise or warning that could prevent an accident. Another concern is whether the employees can effectively observe the animals while using one of these devices.

One unique way to make these devices available, and get a least-desirable job done, is that the only employee who’s allowed to use an iPod is the one who does the pressure washing.

The bottom line is that each employer has to make his own policy on these issues based on the circumstances, the staff’s integrity and his experience with similar situations.  If you feel that iPods and similar devices should be allowed, make your case to your boss and provide some clear assurances on how you and your co-workers will not abuse this privilege.

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler, P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983or e-mail to don@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.