More Firms Ban Smartphones at Work

MORE AND more employers are banning cell phones in the workplace because they are distracting enough to be a serious safety issue for workers. “The Digital Distraction & Workplace Safety” study, issued by Screen Education, reported that 14% of employer respondents said at least one accident had occurred at their workplace because an employee was distracted by their smartphone. These accidents had serious consequences:

  • 59% caused property damage
  • 50% caused injury or death

Surprisingly, 47% of respondents said they had in place cell phone restrictions, meaning that the employees were flouting the rules when they caused the accident.

Companies are wising up. General Motors has banned all employees, including its CEO, from walking around with their mobile phones while talking, texting, or using other smartphone functions. That’s a smart policy. In busy workplaces, safety should be your primary concern.

Machinery and phones don’t mix

OSHA bars the use of cell phones in construction regulations pertaining to cranes and derricks, but the hazard exists across any dangerous equipment. Some workers should absolutely not have their mobile phones on and within reach, such as powered industrial truck operators, forklift drivers, and machinery users. If you have any of these among your workforce, you should strictly ban the use of mobile phones in any capacity during the use of industrial equipment.

You may consider extending the ban to include anyone on the floor of a factory or warehouse or where heavy equipment and machinery are in use.

Potential property damage:

Distracted cell phone usage is known to cause workers to accidentally misuse equipment or machinery, which can result in either small or serious damage to company property. Furthermore, the cost of replacing damaged property can have a major financial impact on your organization and possibly be at your expense.

Reduced productivity:

Cell phone usage can have adverse effects on warehouse production levels and the individual performance of your employees. People who are on their phones could be working instead and, if someone is involved in social media banter or watching an amusing video on YouTube, it’s easy for them to ignore important matters that come across their desks.

What you can do:

Create a policy that explicitly explains when and where employees may use their mobile phones while on the job.