OSHA Takes a Stand on
Texting While Driving
By: Gary Auman of Dunlevey, Mahan & Furry
I have spent quite a bit of
time over the past several months talking about heat stress and the
General Duty Clause. What does that have to do with texting while
driving – four words – The General Duty Clause. Most employers get
so caught up in worrying about compliance with specific safety
standards that they sometimes lose sight of the fact that they are
responsible for providing their employees a place of employment free
of all hazards. Yes, I know the General Duty Clause say “recognized”
hazards; but let’s be realistic. If there is an obvious hazard in
the workplace to which your employees are exposed, you are going to
have a hard time convincing OSHA that you did not consider it a
hazard. This is especially true in the case of something that has
been in the forefront of the news as much as texting while driving.
OSHA has stated that it will consider an employer to
be exposing its employees to a recognized hazard concerning texting
while driving if the employer:
Requires workers to text while driving.
incentives that encourage or condone texting while driving and/or
Structures the work so that
texting while driving is a practical necessity.
Right now you are saying to yourself, I am fine
because I don’t do any one of those three things. You might be right,
but are you? How much do you know about how your managers incentivize
those who work for them to work above their potential with positive or
negative incentives? Perhaps not every day, but are there any days when
the only way to get all the work done is to communicate while traveling?
Unless you are absolutely sure that you can answer these questions
correctively you are at risk. Even if you feel that you can, what would
your employees say to an OSHA compliance officer during a confidential
OSHA expects you to have distracted driving policy as
part of your safety program and to train you employees with regards to
distracted driving. Your distracted driving program should have five
You should prohibit texting while driving.
You should establish work procedures and rules
that do not make it necessary for workers to text while driving in
order to carry out their duties.
You should set up CLEAR procedures, times and
places for drivers’ safe use of texting and other technologies for
communicating with managers, customers, and others.
You should incorporate sage communications
practices into worker orientation and training.
You should eliminate financial and other
incentive systems that encourage workers to text while driving.
OSHA has announced that it is prepared to act quickly
when it receives a credible complaint that employees are required to
text while driving, either directly or indirectly. If the OSHA
investigation bears out the complaint a citation will be issued, and I
would expect that such a citation would be serious. In addition I fully
expect compliance officers to review contractor safety programs to
determine if the program contains material and training on distracted
driving. The absence of such material may well result in serious
This should not be too difficult a program to
institute. But, be sure you do more that add a page or two to your
safety program. Be sure to do the training and also be sure that you
enforce the rules you establish. Finally, this program should not stop a
texting while driving. Your program on “Distracted Driving” should cover
anything else an employee might feel inclined to do while they are
behind the wheel on company business
Workers’ Compensation Claims
Strategies for Optimal Outcomes
By: Ron Lucki, CareWorks Director
of Business Development
By utilizing workers’ compensation best practices
employers can achieve a higher level of control over their workplace
injuries, which can result in reduced severity and claim costs and
better outcomes.Early Reporting & Transitional WorkEarly claim
reporting is a crucial first step in controlling costs.
Numerous national studies have shown the longer it takes for a claim
to reported, the costlier the claim. That’s why it’s important
to work with an Ohio Managed Care Organization (MCO) that has
efficient options for reporting new workers’ compensation claims.
These can include fax, telephone, online or email
reporting. A second key step is developing a plan to bring injured
workers back to work by offering transitional duties. A
Transitional Work Program enables injured employees to perform
valuable work during their recovery as opposed to staying home from
work.There are four benefits to an effective Transitional Work
- Employees remain active and productive
during their recovery, helping prevent loss of physical fitness
and muscle tone due to inactivity.
- Employees can earn full or partial wages
during the transitional period, bringing income closer to
pre-injury wages and helping alleviate concerns about continued
- Getting employees back to their day-to-day
routine helps them experience less disruption to their life and
provides contact and support from co-workers and friends.
- Having an experienced staff member back in
the workforce can help employers avoid expenses associated with
hiring and training new employees.
These advantages are in defense of the widely
accepted philosophy that the longer an injured worker is off work,
the harder it is for them to return. Injured Worker Recovery Should
I let injured employees stay home to recover? Today, the
strategy of having employees only work when fully recovered can be
considered a non-progressive approach.
National studies report that work is generally
good for health and well-being. While employers often focus
primarily on physical recovery, the time an injured employee spends
away from their career and peers can be just as traumatic as the
Often times an injured employee may be limited in
what tasks they can perform when they first return to their job
based on work restrictions prescribed by their healthcare provider.
Yet, today’s occupational health providers are more receptive to
working with employers and focusing on an injured employee’s
abilities as opposed to their disabilities. They share the
same goal of returning an injured employee to productivity as soon
as medically possible because of the positive impact work can have
on achieving a healthy long-term recovery.
Don’t Have Time/Budget for Early Return to Work?
The truth is many employers don’t have the time or the budget to
afford even just one lost time claim. Transitional and
alternative duty programs are designed to give employers the tools
they need to eliminate the occurrence of costly lost time claims.
reporting procedures and a transitional duty process will more times
than not result in injured employees returning to healthy,
productive lifestyles quickly and safely. The optimum outcomes are
improved employee morale, a healthier workforce and a financially