OSHA launching initiative to discourage texting while driving on the job
Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of worker fatalities, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today announced a partnership between the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation to combat distracted driving.
"It is imperative that employers eliminate financial and other incentives that encourage workers to text while driving," said Secretary Solis. "It is well recognized that texting while driving dramatically increases the risk of a motor vehicle injury or fatality."
Prohibiting texting while driving is the subject of an executive order signed by President Barack Obama last year for federal employees and the subject of rulemaking by the Department of Transportation.
OSHA is launching a multi-pronged initiative that includes:
* An education campaign for employers, to be launched during "Drive Safely Work Week" in early October, will call on employers to prevent occupationally related distracted driving, with a special focus on prohibiting texting while driving.
* An open letter to employers to be posted on OSHA's website, http://www.osha.gov during "Drive Safely Work Week." The website also will showcase model employer policies and encourage employer and labor associations to communicate OSHA's message.
* Alliances with the National Safety Council and other key organizations as outreach to employers, especially small employers, aimed at combating distracted driving and prohibit texting while driving.
* Special emphasis on reaching younger workers by coordinating with other Labor Department agencies as well as alliance partners and stakeholders.
* Investigate and issue citations and penalties where necessary to end the practice when OSHA receives a credible complaint that an employer requires texting while driving.
"We call upon all employers to prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages workers to text while driving," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "The Occupational Safety and Health Act is clear; employers must provide a workplace free of recognized hazards."
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.