Remember the days before the rise of cellphones? The days when the only way someone could get hold of you was by calling you on your office phone or your home phone? Those days are over. As long as you carry a cellpohone on your hip, anyone can get hold of you anytime, anyplace.
In many ways cellphones have made life easier for the concrete contractor. Without leaving the field he can send a photo of a job issue to a project manager or engineer and receive a suggestion for a solution. He can get up-to-date information on where the heck his ready-mix truck is from the producer's dispatcher. Or a contractor owner can find each of his supervisors at the touch of just a few buttons.
There is a dark side to this convince, too. Many contractors schedule phone meetings during “windshield time.” They might use up the minutes driving to and from different jobsites to answer phone messages. And many of them will answer a call coming in whether they are cruising down the Interstate or in the middle of a busy city. All these distractions contribute to the No. 1 cause of worker fatalities – motor vehicle crashes.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that between the years of 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 while driving. (Distracted driving numbers are not recorded through the BLS.)
Do you have a cellphone policy?
As a business owner you can help reduce distracted driving and protect your employees by establishing a cellphone use 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-wide cellphone policy is the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). Its website, www.trafficsafety.org, offers information about company cellphone use policies along with other helpful information.
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, NETS 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 the NETS website.
I encourage you to revisit your company’s driver safety program and access your need for updating or establishing a cellphone use policy. If you have a policy you would like to tell me about, email me at [email protected]. I am always interested in hearing about how you keep your employees safe.