Texting has become a daily activity for many CRCA contractors. Its also become apparent in our society the dangers of texting; specifically while driving. OSHA is now getting involved in an effort to protect employees across the country. While we experience fewer fatalities in the workplace today, the leading cause of worker fatalities year after year are motor vehicle crashes; distracted driving dramatically increases the risk of such crashes. The Department of Labor through OSHA is partnering with the Department of Transportation to combat distracted driving.
OSHA will first focus on texting while driving. Texting while driving greatly increases the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash. Prohibiting texting while driving is the subject of the Executive Order signed by President Obama last year for Federal employees, and the subject of rulemaking by the Department of Transportation. OSHA is calling upon all employers to prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages workers to text while driving. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) is clear—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. OSHA goes as far as to say it's imperative that employers eliminate financial or other incentives that encourage workers to text while driving. Employers who require their employees to text while driving—or who organize work so that doing so is a practical necessity even if not a formal requirement - violates the OSH Act.
OSHA is looking for employers to follow the lead of President Obama, the Department of Transportation and 30 state laws that prohibit drivers from texting—to prohibit their employees from texting while driving for work.
In addition to OSHA’s involvement, a growing number of lawsuits have resulted in significant awards against employers when their employees are involved in automobile crashes while using a cell phone. Examples of such are listed below.
The content listed in this article should be enough for all CRCA contractors to take this issue seriously. It all begins with understanding the impact of using cell phones while driving can have on your business as well as the wellbeing of your employees. For more information about texting and driving, visit www.OSHA.gov.