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Texting and Driving

Distractions in the workplace can be deadly.  Employees can injure not only themselves, but also co-workers, or even a customer or other innocent bystander.  Most employers have work place safety rules designed to eliminate (or at least reduce) workplace accidents.  With all that said, one area where employers (and the general public) seem to struggle is in eliminating distractions from vehicles. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is charged with ensuring workplace safety for employees.  In a recently announced initiative, OSHA is now focused on making sure texting while driving for work is eliminated.  OSHA's initiative joins a long list of states enacting laws to prohibit texting while driving as well as several other federal government initiatives to restrict federal employees and commercial vehicle drivers from texting while behind the wheel.  In its open letter to employers, OSHA states that employers have a legal obligation to have a "clear, unequivocal and enforced policy against the hazard of texting while driving."  OSHA's position on the issue is very clear.  Employers should pay heed to this October 4, 2010, announcement and ensure texting while driving for company business is eliminated. 

For those employers with a good policy prohibiting distracted driving, you should already be in compliance with OSHA's policy initiative.  If you have not adopted a distracted driving policy, now would be a good time to draft and implement one.  A good distracted driving policy prohibits texting, emailing, and/or the use of a hand-held phone while driving.  It is important to make sure your written policy is in place and well-communicated to your employees.  As with all company policy materials, it is advisable to have your employees sign a written acknowledgement indicating they have read and will comply with the distracted driving policy. 


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Don Berner, the Labor Law, OSHA, & Immigration Law Guy
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Boyd Byers, the General Employment Law Guy
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Jason Lacey, the Employee Benefits Guy
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