The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) top priority is keeping workers safe. While we experience fewer fatalities in the workplace today, the leading cause of worker fatalities year after year are motor vehicle crashes; distracted driving dramatically increases the risk of such crashes. The Department of Labor through OSHA is partnering with the Department of Transportation to combat distracted driving.
OSHA will first focus on texting while driving. Employers should prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages workers to text while driving. Texting while driving greatly increases the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash. Prohibiting texting while driving is the subject of the Executive Order [57 KB PDF, 3 pages] signed by President Obama last year for Federal employees, and the subject of rulemaking by the Department of Transportation. We call upon all employers to prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages workers to text while driving. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) is clear—employers must provide a workplace free of serious recognized hazards. It is well recognized that texting while driving dramatically increases the risk of a motor vehicle injury or fatality. It is imperative that employers eliminate financial or other incentives that encourage workers to text while driving. Employers who require their employees to text while driving—or who organize work so that doing so is a practical necessity even if not a formal requirement - violate the OSH Act.
We call upon all employers to follow the lead of President Obama, the Department of Transportation and 30 state laws that prohibit drivers from texting—to prohibit their employees from texting while driving for work.
OSHA is launching a multi pronged initiative that will include the following:
- An education campaign to employers, launched during Drive Safely Work Week, calling on employers to prevent occupationally related distracted driving—with a special focus on prohibiting texting while driving;
- A website which carries a video message and an open letter to employers from Assistant Secretary Michaels….We will showcase model employer policies and team up with employer and labor associations to communicate our message;
- We will forge alliances with the National Safety Council and other key organizations to help us reach out to employers, especially small employers, to combat distracted driving and prohibit texting while driving;
- We will place a special emphasis on reaching young workers—working with other Labor Department agencies, as well as our alliance partners and stakeholders; and
- When OSHA receives a credible complaint that an employer requires texting while driving or who organizes work so that texting is a practical necessity, we will investigate and where necessary issue citations and penalties to end this practice.
By prohibiting texting while driving, we are working to ensure that workers are safe on the road and that they return home safely at the end of their shift.
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