Is Your Hand Raised or Are You Busy Texting?

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Raise your hand if your pet peeves include people who text while driving. If you are an employer, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) expects to see your hand in the air. They also may want to see your workplace cell phone use policy prohibiting your employees from texting while driving on company business or in company vehicles.

OSHA recently announced a new joint effort with the Departments of Labor and Transportation to reduce the incidents of accidents and near-accidents attributable to texting while driving. The Assistant Secretary of Labor in charge of OSHA, David Michaels, PhD, MPH, said, “It is well recognized that texting while driving dramatically increases the risk of a motor vehicle injury or fatality. We are asking employers to send a clear message to workers and supervisors that your company neither requires nor condones texting while driving.” In fact, according to research conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drivers who text are 23% more likely to have an accident or near-accident than the average driver. Although the joint effort is new, OSHA is not proceeding under a new law or new regulation. It is simply applying existing regulations in a new way.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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