A new survey finds that employers with a cell phone policy that bans workers from using the devices while driving on the job saw no change in productivity, which some had feared.
The National Safety Council polled managers and executives from 2,004 employers and found that 58% of respondents had a cell phone policy in place. Of those surveyed, 469 companies implemented full-prohibition policies, which forbid workers from using hands-free or handheld phones. The respondents mainly represented manufacturing, transportation and warehousing companies with fewer than 500 employees.
Most cell phone bans in the workplace rely on an honor system, but 43% of employers conduct parking lot observations and 40% use driver records and traffic citations, the survey notes. About 10% of companies conduct in-vehicle monitoring, which is becoming a growing trend in policy compliance.
An employee who is caught violating the ban is most likely to receive a formal write-up, a verbal warning, and/or temporary job suspension and termination, according to the survey’s findings.
“Companies today face serious economic challenges, and we are very pleased to see that this critical safety issue is being taken seriously by business leaders across the country,” says Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of NSC. “Policies banning cell phone use while driving make sense as companies strive to improve employee safety and stay profitable,” she adds.
Rapid advances in wireless technology mean more employers have adopted cell phone policies since 2006, reports NSC, an Illinois-based advocacy group that focuses on workplace safety.
For example, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc., an integrated fertilizer and feed products company, recently implemented a cell phone policy. “We did not have any particular incidents that led us to enact our cell phone policy, it was simply a common value to help keep our people safe,” says John R. Hunt, vice president of safety, health and environment at PotashCorp “We have seen really wide support for the policy and our people do not see it as a detriment to performing their jobs,” he adds.
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