Are iPhones A Hazard In The Workplace?

November 12, 2018 No Comments

A new study in the Journal of Injury Prevention  looks at the dangers of “distracted walking”.   Crossing a busy intersection while texting or talking on a smart-phone can be deadly.  Texters are four times more likely to disregard traffic lights.  Pedestrians talking on a phone are likely to forget to look both ways before crossing an intersection.

In 2017, there were 4,000 vehicle/pedestrian fatalities; and 1,100 pedestrians were hospitalized by injuries that occurred while texting and walking.

How does all this relate to the use of smart-phones at work?  Employees who use smart-phones on the job are distracted from the task at hand.  Also, their vision and/or hearing may be impaired while using the electronic device – resulting in an inability to perceive warnings and identify potential hazards.

For example, while walking in a warehouse last year  I was almost struck by a fork truck operator who was texting while driving.  Also, I have seen operators of giant metal working machines tape their phones to the operating console of their machines so they could text and browse the Internet while “appearing” to be operating their machine.

I see no “safety” problem with employees who work in offices (and other low hazard jobs) using smart-phones while on the job.  However, I feel strongly that smart-phones should be banned from the factory floor in those industries that either have significant safety hazards or any type of mobile equipment (e.g. fork trucks, cranes, etc.).

In the USA, OSHA should study this problem, review the accident data, and develop a standard on the use of smart-phones in the workplace.

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