In many ways cellphones have made life easier for the concrete contractor — now he can get jobsite issues clarified with his office or an engineer without leaving the field, and he can also find out where the heck his ready-mix truck is with a call to his producer’s dispatcher.
But there is a dark side to this convenience. Many contractors schedule phone meetings, check voice messages and answer calls during “windshield time.” These distractions contribute to the No. 1 cause of worker fatalities — motor vehicle crashes.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that from 2003 and 2008, 871 construction workers died in occupational highway accidents. In the general population, 16 percent of highway fatalities are due to distracted driving, including the use of a cellphone.
As a business owner you can help reduce distracted driving and protect your employees by establishing a cellphone usage policy. At the very minimum that policy should reinforce any state laws against talking on hand-held devices or texting while driving. It should also include an enforcement policy for those employees who violate your company’s cellphone policy.
A good place to start your research into updating or establishing a company cellphone policy is the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). Its website, www.trafficsafety.org.
NETS, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, is also organizing Drive Safely Work Week Oct. 3-7. Posters, fact sheets and daily programs to help business owners communicate the importance of safe driving to employees during this Drive Safely Work Week are also available at www.trafficsafety.org.
I encourage you to access your need for updating or establishing a cellphone policy. If you have a policy, tell me about it at Rebecca.Wasieleski@cygnus.com. I am always interested in hearing about how you keep your employees safe.