Cell phone use in danger zones: A flat ban may encourage end runs

by on November 1, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

Cell phones are great safety devices. Even if you don’t allow use of them on your work site, workers probably still carry them. In an emergency, a worker can make a quick call to summon help.

But what if someone’s emotions are running high and they feel they must make a personal call right away? If they know your work rules, they may try to conceal the call – and end up talking in a very dangerous place.

Example: A worker on a night paving job who purposefully sought out a dark area to call while in an ongoing fight with his wife. He ended up getting run over.

As supervisor, you have to make a judgment call. You can ban carrying cell phones and pat everyone down prior to entering a danger zone. But that’s not realistic. And you may not have the policy flexibility to allow exceptions.

But you have the discretion to offer workers breaks. Better they should come to you and ask for an unscheduled break than conceal violating a safety rule. There’s a balance: You don’t want to be inundated with break requests for personal calls.

Best bet: Have a safe area for phone calls during scheduled breaks. Ask them to wait if they can. If they can’t, you can judge whether they’re so agitated that it requires intervention or it’s so important that it deserves an unscheduled call.

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