Employees Texting While Driving, a Serious OSHA Workplace Safety Hazard
OSHA is calling on all employers to their employees safe by implementing internal policies that will prevent worker-related distracted driving, especially from texting while driving.
Studies have shown that year after year, the leading cause of worker-related injuries and fatalities occur because of motor vehicle crashes caused by distracted driving. In the official blog of the Department of Transportation (DOT), Dr. David Michaels stated that, “Distracted driving has become an epidemic in the United States. In 2009, distracted drivers contributed to more than 5,400 traffic fatalities, accounting for 16 percent of all traffic fatalities that year.” As a result of these types of statistics, OSHA and the DOT began an initiative last year aimed at reducing the number of worker-related crashes due to distracted driving, especially because of texting and sending/receiving emails.
OSHA takes a firm stance on safe employee practices, and employers must provide a workplace free of recognized hazards. As part of that responsibility, employees who are driving while on the job should never be required, either outright or through necessity, to text, or send/read emails. In an effort to maintain efficiency, many employees will attempt to save time by multitasking. As stated on the OSHA Distracted Driving Initiative webpage “It is imperative that employers eliminate financial or other incentives that encourage workers to text while driving.”
Employers should have strict policies prohibiting texting and reading emails while the employee is driving on company business. If the employee cannot find a safe place to respond to texts or emails, they cannot be expected to respond immediately. Employees must also be aware of the policies through training.
As Dr. Michaels stated in his blog, “Employers should set up clear procedures, times, and places for drivers’ safe use of texting and other technologies for communicating with managers, customers, and others, and incorporate safe communications practices into worker orientation and training.”
Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have banned texting on the roadways, and it’s imperative that employers must do all they can to make sure employees abide by state laws and be protected from hazards on the job.