OSHA Pushes for Tighter Rules on Texting and Driving While at Work

Advances in smartphone technology have helped improve businesses in countless ways during the past several years. Vendors can use smartphones to charge credit cards on the spot. Investors can check stock prices from the back of a taxi. Purchasing departments can order more of just about anything from just about anywhere.

But when employees try to use those smartphones while driving for their jobs, it becomes a safety issue both for the employee and for the public.

That’s why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is launching a new initiative aimed at stopping workers from texting while driving for work.

OSHA can claim great strides in worker safety over the years. It is a sign of how safe the workplace is becoming that motor vehicle collisions have become the leading cause of death in the American workforce. Distracted driving is part of the reason OSHA has been unable to bring down the numbers of workers killed and injured at work while in the car.

Many industries require some amount of driving for work. Sales representatives have to get out there and chase down leads. Caterers put employees in vans to deliver food across town or across the state. Photographers need to be on the scene for photo shoots and large animal veterinarians have to visit barns throughout their territory. Whether an employee is being paid for mileage while driving for work does not make a difference. If they are doing something work related and using their car to get it done, then it is work.

OSHA is asking all employers to crack down on assignments that require or even encourage employees to text while driving. That means not sending texts to employees while they are driving and ensuring that texting from the road is not a necessary part of the job.

Employers will face more tort claims and worker compensation costs as texting while driving becomes an accepted part of business. OSHA is trying to educate industries to make sure they are aware that they are responsible if their employees feel they have to engage in this dangerous behavior to keep up in their job.

“We want to send a clear message to managers, supervisors and workers that their company must neither require nor condone sending or reading text or e-mail messages while driving,” wrote Dr. David Michaels in his OSHA blog in October.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

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