Thursday, October 24, 2019

OSHA publishes new guidance on distracted driving

The reaction time of someone texting while driving is 35 percent worse than someone driving without any distractions. Compare that figure to the 12 percent deficit a drunk driver faces, and you begin to understand why distracted driving is so dangerous. Indeed, in 2018 alone, 4,637 people died in car crashes related to cell phone use.

OSHA understands this danger as well. Thus, in conjunction with Drive Safely Work Week (which occurred earlier this month), OSHA announced an educational campaign calling on employers to prevent work-related distracted driving, with a special focus on prohibiting texting while driving.

According to Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels—

Year after year, the leading cause of worker fatalities is motor vehicle crashes. There’s no question that new communications technologies are helping businesses work smarter and faster. But getting work done faster does not justify the dramatically increased risk of injury and death that comes with texting while driving. 
OSHA’s message to all companies whose employees drive on the job is straightforward: It is your responsibility and legal obligation to have a clear, unequivocal and enforced policy against texting while driving. Companies are in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act if, by policy or practice, they require texting while driving, or create incentives that encourage or condone it, or they structure work so that texting is a practical necessity for workers to carry out their jobs. OSHA will investigate worker complaints, and employers who violate the law will be subject to citations and penalties.

To support its initiative, OSHA published a two-page pamphlet on the dangers of distracted driving, to go along with its more comprehensive guidelines on this issue, published in 2006.

What does this mean for your workplace? If you have employees driving for your business, you must update your policies to prohibit distracted driving, including texting while driving. Remind employees that texting while driving is not only against the law, but also against company policy, and employees who violate your rule will be dealt with severely. Your insurance carriers, and, believe it or not, your employees and their families, will thank you.

* Photo via Good Free Photos