The importance of workplace cell phone policies
The rapid growth of technology has increased the need for workplace cell phone policies. Millions of workers in the United States take personal devices to work daily, but using cell phones on the job presents safety hazards and potential liability issues. Employers should develop formal, written guidelines on cell phone use while driving for any employees that operate a vehicle for business purposes. Banning workers from calling and texting on the road prevents accidents and shows a commitment to safety.
Although distracted driving is one of the most commonly thought-of hazards, employees that use cell phones on a job-site are also at risk. Potential outcomes from being distracted by technology include the misuse of dangerous machinery, slips/trips/falls, exposure to hazardous chemicals, etc. The likelihood of occupational injuries increases when workers are not focused on their tasks or personal safety.
A workplace cell phone policy benefits employers more than just preventing accidents. Guidelines may also increase productivity by reducing or eliminating the use of devices. Formal policies can also mitigate liability issues related to unapproved cell phone audio/video recordings or leaking confidential company information.
The brevity of cell phone policies varies by business. Small companies may find that a one-paragraph policy is sufficient for their operations, while large corporations may have plans several pages in length. Employers should evaluate their exposures to determine which is best for their employees. Consider the suggestions below to build your own workplace cell phone policy:
Essential policy elements
- Policy objective and administration
- Personal cell phones
- Company-provided cell phones
- Guidelines for appropriate use
- Cell phone safety rules while driving and at work
- Applicable state/local laws on cell phone use while driving
- Video and audio recording policies
- Disciplinary actions for policy violations
- Employee training and acknowledgment
By: Libby Burgher
Loss Control Associate
*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.