The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) top priority is keeping workers safe. While we experience fewer fatalities in today’s workplace, motor vehicle crashes continue to be one of the leading causes of death among American workers year after year, with distracted driving dramatically increasing the risk of such accidents. For the safety of workers across the country, The Department of Labor (DOL) – through OSHA – is partnering with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to combat distracted driving.
OSHA’s Distracted Driving Initiative
OSHA will first focus on texting while driving. As the employer you should prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages workers to text while driving, as it greatly increases the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash.
While texting is not specifically addressed as an OSHA standard, the General Duty Clause in The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) covers distracted driving by stating “employers must provide a workplace free of serious recognized hazards.” It is well recognized that texting while driving dramatically increases the risk of a motor vehicle injury or fatality. This means you could be in violation of the OSH Act if your company:
- Requires employees to text while driving.
- Organizes work so that texting is a practical necessity even if not a formal requirement.
- Provides any sort of financial or other incentives that encourage workers to text while driving.
If OSHA receives a credible complaint that an employer enforces or encourages any of these activities, they will investigate and, where necessary, issue citations and penalties to end such practices.
Supporting the Initiative in Your Workplace
Since distracted driving falls under the General Duty Clause and not a specific standard, there are no direct guidelines for how you must protect employees from the dangers of distracted driving. It is up to you as the employer to institute your own measures to keep employees safe. The easiest way to do this is to develop a policy that outlines how employees are to use mobile devices while carrying out their duties. Specifically noting that texting while driving is not allowed not only protects employees but also will keep your company from violating OSHA regulation.
For more information about the affects of distracted driving, how to prevent them and for help implamenting your company's Cell Phone/Electronic Device Use Policy, contact Nick Colbert at GDI Insurance Agency, Inc.. For more on OSHA’s Distracted Driving Initiative visit: www.osha.gov/distracted-driving.
Source: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, www.OSHA.gov