Unsafe acts cause more workplace accidents than unsafe conditions. So employers and employees need to work together to ensure that an electronic device policy is enforced in a way that shows each understands the importance of keeping the public and co-workers safe by being able to respond instantaneously to a workplace issue, whether it's a pedestrian crossing a street or a truck backing up to a loading dock.
It's true that you can't idiot-proof the world. But by putting the proper policy into place you can protect your little piece of the world (such as your workplace) and the public as a whole.
Nothing drives home this point better than the story of a 25 year old truck driver from upstate New York who was talking on a cell phone with one hand and texting with the other. As you would expect, he came up one hand short and lost control of his vehicle, smashed into another car, careened across a front lawn and plunged his truck into a swimming pool, injuring a 68 year-old woman and her 8 year-old niece.
We can only hope that the company he worked for had the foresight to have an up-to-date policy on the do's and don'ts of the new technology in the workplace. Because recent cases have shown language is not enough. The company must also show it has enforced the policy and properly educated the employee.
Teresa A. Long is Director of Agency Services for the Institute of WorkComp Professionals in Asheville, NC, the largest network of Workers' Compensation professionals in the nation (www.workcompprofessionals.com ). Teresa was claims manager for 14 years for Walt Disney World and later was Vice President of Risk Management for Sarasota, FL-based Unisource Administrators, Inc. She can be contacted at 828-274-0959 and firstname.lastname@example.org