Most of us can agree that we find it difficult to be separated from our technology. Even when we’re on the job, many of us use our phones — or maintain easy access to them — in the workplace.
Piggy-backing on laws that tackle unsafe driving practices related to technological distractions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has now partnered with the Department of Transportation on a new initiative to combat distracted driving that can occur at work.
OSHA already requires employers to conduct hazard assessments and uphold important safety practices. These assessments of workplace risks can range from height requirements and managements systems to potential foot injury hazards, as are found in section CFR 1910.132(d) of OSHA’s compliance guidelines.
But this most recent initiative takes hazard assessment a step further. OSHA’s primary focus is on the practice of texting while driving. The initiative calls for employers to prohibit any type of policy that encourages or requires workers to text while driving.
In 2013, an average of 424,000 people were injured and 3,154 people were killed as a result of car accidents involving distracted drivers. And according to OSHA, motor vehicle crashes on the job are the leading cause of work fatalities every year. Therefore, the initiative is designed to reduce the risk of car accidents due to distracted driving while on the clock.
With this new initiative, it’s not enough for a company to simply forbid the practice of texting while driving. OSHA will be looking beyond what’s in the employee handbook or the documents workers have signed pertaining to their cell phone practices. If a business neglects to enforce this no-texting policy or simply looks the other way when they see the policy being ignored, the company itself will be in violation of the rules. Whether the company actively encourages the practice or just doesn’t do anything to prevent it, the outcome will be the same.
In addition to the policy changes the initiative puts forth, OSHA will also be rolling out an education campaign for employers, a website with a special video message, alliances with the National Safety Council and other organizations, and a special focus on small businesses and young workers.
Wholly 30 states have passed laws to prohibit drivers from engaging in distracting behaviors while behind the wheel. OSHA hopes that this new initiative will highlight the dangers of distracted driving and will help to target the source of the issue. By holding both employers and employees accountable, the organization wants to ensure that everyone on the road comes home safely at the end of the day.