Wednesday, October 1, 2014

OSHA Regulations on Use of Cell Phones at Work

I got my first cell phone way back in the 1980’s, when they were a very unusual (and expensive) novelty. Now it seems that a smart phone is a “must have” for every person over the age of 10. But I am still shocked every time I see somebody either talking on their cellphone or using it to send or read text messages and emails while at work.
 
I’m not talking about those people who are sitting at a desk or standing behind a sales counter (although it aggravates me to no end to be ignored by a sales rep who is busy with their phone); my concern is for those workers I have witnessed during safety audits who are chatting away or typing a text message into their cell phone while performing relatively complex tasks such as . . .
 
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15 comments:

  1. Curtis, Thanks for sharing this. It is the best summation of the rules and ideas I've seen on the subject.

    - Richard (SafetyRick) Zimmerman, CSP, EdD,

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  2. Rick. You bet! I am just surprised I have not heard from others about this topic. I fear this is something companies wait to do something about AFTER an accident has occurred.

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  3. Suggestion: General rule - use cellphones the same way you would use a land line. Stop what you are doing. Remove yourself from your circumstance to a safe place. Answer the phone. What do you think?

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    1. A good idea in principle, but not sure how effective such a policy would be. With a land line, the phone is tied to a fixed point so the worker cannot wander too far while engrossed in a conversation. But with a cell phone, there is nothing to prevent a worker from answering a call or responding to a message when and where it comes through to them.

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    2. There's something to prevent a worker from answering a call or responding to a message: A policy and a safety culture.
      First we will try to convince employees it's a bad habit and unsafe. If they ignore the message, there will be consequences for their behavior if found not following this policy.

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  4. I've been trying to get our organization to accept a cell phone policy for several months. At the last mtg. w/ the president I was told, "We will follow Texas state law." So no cell phones in school zones. I'm frustrated beyond belief. This employer only wants to put window dressing on their Safety Program to be able to say, "Yes, we have a Safety Program." But it is only window dressing and they don't care about their employees proven by their actions and in-action. Guess they'll just wait for an avoidable accident and deal with the outcome. Only thing is I won't be here, I am now focused on being in the field coaching the employees out there on how to protect themselves and those on their crews. Changing a corporate culture ... very difficult.

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  5. Part of why I like doing rail work-- FRA rules call for a $5,000 fine if caught using a cell phone within 500 ft of track.

    Terry Callendrillo, CUSP, CHST, EMT-P,

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    1. Worker. Also subject to removal from rail work. FRA is SERIOUS. Terry

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  6. As I came back from overseas this week, watching everyone use their cells while walking and driving both here and abroad, I wonder if we need to concentrate on minimizing the risk while using, rather than not using.

    I think it may be too late to stop usage. It is pervasive.

    Norman Umberger, P.E.

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  7. We do not allow cell phones in our manufacturing facility for anyone at the supervisor or lower position. This is for safety and for distraction. We do have safe areas where they could be used safely with Management approval. We are a chemical manufacturing plant. It is a good policy.

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  8. Hi Curtis- I have been trying to catch up on your blogs and this one sounded interesting- but for some reason I can't read anything other than what I can see on this page. Have you taken this one down? Or did this one come down by accident? If so, I would still be interested in reading it. Thanks- Melissa Taylor, MS, CSP

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    1. Melissa. Not sure of the cause of the problem, but I reposted the link (http://www.oshatraining.com/osha-regulations-on-cell-phone-use-at-work.php). Please try again. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know. CC

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  9. It has been really hard to enforce the 'no cell phone use' policy in our warehouse. It doesn't matter if they get suspended without pay. The problem continues. Not all supervisors enforce the policy though and that I think is our biggest problem. However, most employees use their phones to listen to music because it helps them focus on work and motivates them through the day to work harder. It may be impossible to completely eliminate the use of cellphones at work nowadays. Some of our positions are not dangerous and using a cellphone would not create a risk at all however, we have forklifts operating around the entire plant and that's our concern. Getting distracted on the phone, not seeing the forklift coming around the corner and getting hurt. This is a serious problem we've had for a long time but management is having a really hard time enforcing the policy. I'm curious to know if there is a company out there that has come up with an effective way to tackle this problem? Please let me know! Thanks, YBG, SEA-HR

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  10. I am an OSHA Construction Trainer. I ask the students to sign a document that they will not use their cell phone or any Audio or Video devices during the training.

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