A new National Safety Council (NSC) white paper advises employers to protect themselves from potential liability by creating corporate cell phone policies and banning employees' use of cell phones while driving on the job.
NSC's paper, "Employer Liability and the Case for Comprehensive Cell Phone Policies," details the potential liability employers may face when workers are involved in crashes where cell phone use is a factor. The paper also explains the need for organization-wide bans that include hands-free and handheld devices.
"Banning the use of cell phones while driving is a risk reduction effort. Employers have an obligation to protect their employees and others with whom they share the roads," the paper states. "The best action for employers is to implement a total ban policy that includes handheld and hands-free devices and prohibits all employees from using cell phones while driving. This policy should be reinforced throughout the year with education."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimate on-the-job crashes cost employers more than $24,500 per property damage crash. The cost rises to $150,000 per injury and to as much as $3.6 million per fatality.
NSC's white paper includes examples of employers who have been held liable with awards reaching into the tens of millions of dollars, including cases involving employee-owned cell phones and cars and in situations where employees were driving during non-working hours or engaged in personal phone calls.
"Business leaders owe it to their employees to put safety first – especially when employees are on the roads," said Janet Froetscher, NSC president and CEO. "Employers should know a policy that prohibits handheld and hands-free cell phone use by all employees while driving is not only a best safety practice but also contributes to the bottom line."
Download the white paper as a PDF here.
As part of its continued effort to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to provide employers with the tools to ensure their workers are driving safely, NSC released updates to its Cell Phone Policy Kit and cognitive distraction white paper, "Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why driving while using hands-free devices is risky behavior."