The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently released a “Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes.” OSHA also states that “every 12 minutes someone dies in a motor vehicle crash, every 10 seconds an injury occurs and every 5 seconds a crash occurs. Many of these incidents occur during the workday or during the commute to and from work.”
They add, “Employers bear the cost for injuries that occur both on and off the job. Whether you manage a fleet of vehicles, oversee a mobile sales force or simply employ commuters, by implementing a driver safety program in the workplace you can greatly reduce the risks faced by your employees and their families while protecting your company’s bottom line.”
It also publishes a Distracted Driving Initiative poster, which targets texting as a major cause of workplace injuries. Previously, in an open letter to employers, then OSHA Administrator Dr. Michaels said, “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.”
According to OSHA, it has used its General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, to issue citations and proposed penalties in these circumstances. OSHA considers “distracted driving” to be a “recognized hazard” in the industry under the General Duty Clause to employee safety.
While OSHA has updated its distracted driving website, distracted driving is not a new issue and is something that has quickly developed into a massive issue in a highly technological era. Employers whose businesses require the use of cars, vans or trucks should consider developing written policies and investing in the training of employees on the safe operation of vehicles which they are behind the wheel of, including a clear prohibition against texting or operating any mobile device whilst driving.