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Business today is regularly conducted through smartphones, as a necessary tool for workers to communicate and access information. The topic is timely, as this year the iPhone is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Both personally and professionally, you probably wonder what you did without it.

But, do the distractions of technology threaten safety and well-being in your light industrial workplace? Possible negatives include interference with line of sight or otherwise taking an employee’s attention off the task or situation at hand.

Build a Culture of Safety

As an employer, it’s up to you to build and maintain a workplace culture where safety comes before everything else, including speed and making the day’s production numbers. Show you care about every single worker by investing in safety. This means balancing the latest technology with foolproof safety policies, procedures and practices. There must be no exceptions.

The Dangers of Distraction

Preventing accidents starts with ensuring employees are constantly aware of their workplace surroundings.

  • Distracted driving is the number-one cause of workplace fatalities. And cell phones are the leading cause of driver distraction. This comes in the form of texting, talking, checking the internet and playing games.
  • Cell phone distractions can impugn spatial awareness, hazard recognition and the operation of potentially dangerous equipment. OSHA maintains a Distracted Driving Initiative, which targets texting as a major cause of workplace injuries.
  • The operation of powered industrial trucks and similar machinery can be distracted by cell phone use. For instance, OSHA forbids the use of cell phones in construction regulations regarding cranes and derricks, but the same potential hazard exists across virtually any major equipment.
  • Augmented reality is a recent addition to the list of possible hazards. Games like Pokémon Go encourage cell phone distraction while walking. They should be prohibited from your workplace.
  • Thirteen states ban the use of handheld phones while driving. Forty-six states and Washington, DC ban text messaging for drivers. As an employer, you face vicarious liability for the acts of your employees for personal injury or property damage they cause during employment. And with an increase in accidents caused by distracted workers comes stiff hikes in your workers’ compensation and other insurance costs, as well.
  • Some phones may pose a fire hazard. Cell phones that use lithium-ion batteries allegedly have caused sparks and fires while in stand-by or charging mode.

Monitoring your safety practices and regularly updating your policies and procedures can be an overwhelming responsibility, especially with constantly changing laws and regulations. The workforce development experts at StaffMasters can help ensure you stay current and most importantly, protect the safety of every single person at your workplace. Contact us today to learn more.

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