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OSHA Targets Employers for Texting While Driving

June 15, 2011

Most employers understand they have a responsibility and legal obligation to create and maintain a safe and healthy workplace. What many employers may not realize, however, is that included in this obligation is the requirement to have a “clear, unequivocal and enforced policy against the hazard of texting while driving.”

Companies are in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act if they, by policy or practice, (1) require texting while driving; (2) create incentives that encourage or condone texting while driving; or (3) structure work so that texting is a practical necessity for employees to carry out their jobs.  To combat the threat of distracted driving, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will investigate credible reports of employers who violate these rules and issue the appropriate citations and penalties.

In light of OSHA’s “distracted driving initiative,” employers are advised to adopt (and enforce) a cell phone/smartphone usage policy outlining permitted and prohibited uses of electronic devices.  Additional information on OSHA’s distracted driving initiative can be found here. OSHA’s new “distracted driving” business brochure can be accessed at www.osha.gov/Publications/3416distracted-driving-flyer.pdf.

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