06 Apr OSHA’s Stance on Distracted Driving
The top priority of OSHA is keeping workers safe. While workplace fatalities have been decreasing in recent years, motor vehicle crashes continue to be one of the leading causes of death among American workers. As distracted driving dramatically increases the risk of vehicle accidents, OSHA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) are working together to combat distracted driving for the safety of workers across the country.
OSHA’s Distracted Driving Initiative
According to OSHA, employers should prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages workers to text while driving. The risk of injury or death in a motor vehicle crash is greatly increased by texting and driving.
OSHA does not specifically address texting and driving as a standard they are against. The general duty clause in The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) covers distracted driving, 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 injuries or fatalities, and a number of state laws prohibit texting while driving. This means you could be in violation of the OSH Act if your company does the following:
– Requires employees to text while driving
– Organizes work so that texting is a practical necessity, even if it’s 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. Then issue citations and penalties to end such practices.
Supporting Safety in Your Workplace
Since distracted driving falls under the general duty clause and not a specific standard, there are no direct guidelines for how to 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. Developing a policy that outlines how employees are to use mobile devices while carrying out their duties is the easiest way to prevent. Specifically prohibiting that texting while driving because it not only protects employees, but also will keep your company from violating OSHA regulations. Click here for more on OSHA’s distracted driving initiative.