The Day The Music Died At Harley-Davidson

smashed-radioSo bye-bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry…them good ole boys was drinking whiskey and rye singing, this’ll be the day that I die…this’ll be the day that I die….

This week, echos of Don McClain’s iconic ballad rang for the last time on the floor of the Harley-Davidson factory in York Pennsylvania.  The music had died.

Employees were notified in a memo that personal radios, ipods, and music players would no longer be allowed on the factory floor and that the piped in music would be turned off, all in the name of employee safety and quality control.

“It’s a distraction,” said Maripat Blankenheim, director of external communications for Harley. “It’s really important for people – no matter what they do – to be focused on what they do.”

The memo, written by John Dansby II, VP of Manufacturing said, “As you are aware, it is imperative that we improve our safety and first-time quality performance,” he writes. “Too many distractions and potential hazards still exist in the workplace that impact our performance every day.”

“After much consideration, direct observation and discussions with various stakeholders,” Dansby continues, “I have concluded that radios and music are one such distraction to our work.”

Mike Argento, a newspaper columnist first posted the memo and says that morale at the plant is “in the toilet.”  Read his post here.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) does not address music in manufacturing plants and most companies struggle with the issue, especially among jobs where monotonous routine tasks are performed.