We are in the midst of National Distracted Driving Month, and if you think this just applies to teenage drivers who are texting behind the wheel, or business professionals multitasking in their cars on the way to work, think again. Construction companies should also take note of the ways in which technology is distracting their workers in their day-to-day activities, whether it is on the road, in the field, and on the move in general.
Constructech recently examined the issue of texting while working on a construction jobsite, profiling B&G Equipment and Supply, www.bgequipmentsupply.com, Birmingham, Ala., a division of Brasfield & Gorrie. The company was looking to establish a safer working environment centered around limiting workers from looking at their phones, or other mobile devices, on the job.
One of the first steps the company did was to create a company policy on cellphone use while driving, essentially implementing disciplinary action against those employees that were caught texting while operating heavy machinery. But just like with any policy, it was hard to enforce.
This eventually led the company to implement FleetSafer Mobile from ZoomSafer, www.zoomsafer.com, Herndon, Va., a software program that it has installed on employees’ devices. The technology makes it so that when employees get into vehicles and start to drive, the software automatically detects the person is driving and puts the phone into safe mode.
Safe mode indicates a set of custom policies that are defined by the employer as to what the person can and cannot do while behind the wheel. For B&G Equipment and Supply, this includes preventing employees from texting, emailing, or browsing the Web. However, they can still receive phone calls using a Bluetooth or other handsfree device.
Dont be surprised to see similar types of policies being implemented across the construction industry. For a market that has historically had very high work-related injuries rates, due in part to the very nature of the work in general, there doesn;t need to be another reason to present danger in the path of employees via something like texting. While it might be difficult to enforce such policies, technology can provide some assistance in helping you create a safer environment.
There are many different software programs available to help limit the action of texting while driving. But looking at the bigger picture, you can be part of a larger campaign against distracted driving by logging on to The National Safety Council, www.nsc.org, and make a commitment to reduce driver distraction.