On October 4, 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued an open letter to employers announcing an educational program encouraging employers to prevent work-related distracted driving and asking employers to review their policies and practices with respect to texting and driving. The OSHA letter further stated employers have a “legal obligation” to prevent hazards such as texting and driving.
OSHA stated that the leading cause of worker fatalities is motor vehicle crashes and noted increased risk of injury and death comes from texting while driving. OSHA stated that “[c]ompanies are in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act if, by policy or practice, they require texting while driving, or create incentives that encourage or condone it, or they structure work so that texting was a practical necessity for workers to carry out the job.” OSHA also indicated that “[w]hen OSHA receives a credible complaint that an employer requires texting while driving or organizes work so that texting is a practical necessity, we will investigate and where necessary issue citations and penalties to end this practice.”
Employers need to review driving policies and any other policies which could encourage texting or e-mailing while driving. While employers are reviewing their texting and driving policies, they may also want to review policies regarding making and receiving phone calls while driving and the possibility of requiring employees to pull over or use hands-free devices when they make or receive phone calls on the road.
If you need assistance in establishing policies or other OSHA related compliance, please contact Jeremy L. Fetty at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (765) 482-0110 or (317) 269-2500.
Jeremy L. Fetty is an associate at Parr Richey whose practice focuses on corporate law, utility law, and labor and employment law. The statements contained herein are for information purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice and should not be construed to form an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions regarding this article, please contact an attorney.