Blog

December 18th, 2013

OSHA’s updated Hazard Communication Standard provides a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. The first deadline in the implementation phase is Dec. 1, 2013, the date by which employers must train workers on the new label elements and safety data sheet. Find information and resources, including QuickCards, a training fact sheet (PDF*), a list of frequently asked questions and a brief (PDF*) on labels and pictograms on OSHA’s Hazard Communications page

June 26th, 2013


During a plenary session at the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Safety 2013 conference, OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels discussed his second term leading the agency and his hopes for the proposed I2P2 program.

In a June 25 plenary session at Safety 2013 in Las Vegas, OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels once again called the proposed Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) his “highest priority” but acknowledged that some consider the proposal controversial.

“I know there are people who don’t trust OSHA, who think we’re part of this regulatory state and that regulations are the reason for the [financial] crash in 2008,” Michaels said. “There are people who believe we regulate too much.”

But Michaels stressed that such a standard, which is designed to compel employers to find and fix hazards, could have wide-reaching ramifications in the occupational safety and health arena without creating economic woes for employers. During his presentation, he summed up the program by citing the following the sentence: “I2P2 would require employers to have an ongoing, investigative, preventative process in place instead of being reactive and addressing problems after an accident occurs.”
Michaels was quick to point out he did not write that sentence – in fact, the line was published in the Nation’s Restaurant News March 5 article, “Regulation Nation,” and was penned by an attorney opposing the I2P2 proposal.

“Would I want my son to work at a place with a preventative process or a reactive one?” Michaels asked. “If this is a burden we’re talking about, this is a burden we want to have. We’re saying to employers: We have to think about safety.”

When pressed for a timeline for I2P2’s possible progress, Michaels was unable to offer concrete dates and said he was “hesitant to predict anything.” He did, however, reiterate that I2P2 remained his priority, and he urged safety stakeholders to add their support to the proposal by talking to Congress, adding comments to OSHA’s docket and offering public support.
“I hope you’re with us,” he said.

Michaels also addressed the fact that he will continue to lead OSHA throughout President Obama’s second term, saying he was “very pleased to be able to stay.”

“It’s always difficult during a transition,” he said. “We’re able to continue to move in the same direction. As we learn more, we’re slightly refocusing, but essentially our direction will remain the same for the next three and a half years.”

During a question-and-answer session following his prepared marks, Michaels addressed the concern that small employers may have difficulty complying with OSHA requirements like I2P2. Michaels was steadfast that safety is nonnegotiable, no matter the employer’s size – comments that were met with a smattering of audience applause.

“If you have a small employer with high hazards, they’ll need a safety and health professional. That’s just the cost of doing business,” Michaels said. “Small employers will be able to get information from the Web, from trade associations [and elsewhere] … they shouldn’t be running an operation that isn’t safe. If they can’t afford to do that, they should think about whether they can afford to be doing this business.”

February 19th, 2013

On February 4, 2013, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health spoke at an OSHA Employees All-Hands Meeting where he recognized some of the agency’s successes over the past several years, and discussed its future directions for 2013. This past December marked Michaels’ third anniversary of becoming Assistant Secretary of OSHA.



The significant accomplishments Michaels highlighted were:

  • Launching the new Severe Violator Enforcement Program to target the worst of the worst violators.
  • Issuing a record number of significant and egregious enforcement cases — including the largest fine in OSHA history.
  • Issuing three major standards — one of which was an important new rule aligning OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).
  • Playing an influential role in protecting clean up and recovery workers in national disasters.
  • Conducting unprecedented outreach and education to vulnerable workers — including Latinos, members of the Asian American Pacific Islander community, and others with limited English proficiency.
  • Conducting a vigorous compliance assistance program to help employers and workers — including two national outreach campaigns.
  • Approving hundreds of new Voluntary Protection Program sites and enhanced the integrity of the program.
  • Strengthening protection of whistleblowers.
  • Launching several new National, Regional and Local Emphasis inspection programs.

In addition, Michaels stated that last year, OSHA removed 685,000 workers from job hazards. It also conducted nearly 41,000 federal OSHA inspections and another 51,000 with its state plan partners.

Although Michaels expressed his gratitude for the solid foundation that Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis put in place to protect workers, with the support of the Deputy Secretary at the Department of Labor, Seth Harris, who is now Acting Secretary, Michaels’ acknowledges that there is much more work to be done.

The number one priority that Michaels identified for the future that he believes is critical to driving injury, illness, and fatality rates down is the injury and illness prevention program initiative.

“One of my main objectives is to educate our country’s employers about moving beyond reactive compliance to embrace a culture of safety. Many workplaces have already adopted injury and illness prevention programs, where employers develop a process to find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt,” said Michaels. “Employers in our terrific VPP and SHARP recognition programs recognize that higher profits are the welcome byproducts of safety management. These employers experience dramatic decreases in workplace injuries, accompanied by a transformed workplace culture that leads to higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs, and greater employee satisfaction. Now it’s time to take this message from the best to the rest.”

Other initiatives include continuing to:

  • Address the problem of systems that undermine a workplace culture of safety. These include incentive programs based on injury rates or reports that can discourage workers from reporting injuries and programs that punish workers for reporting injuries.
  • Provide swift assistance and direct resources to those most in need of our help. As tornados tore through the middle of the country, historic floods plagued North Dakota, as oil spilled into the Yellowstone River, OSHA responded with boots on the ground to bring life-saving guidance to responders and cleanup crews. It drew lessons from these hardships, devising original and effective strategies to provide swift assistance and direct resources to those most in need of the agency’s help.
  • Protect vulnerable and hard-to-reach workers . OSHA is continuing to translate its publications and webpages into Spanish and other languages. And, it plans to re-launch the Campaign to Prevent Fatal Falls in Construction this spring-with signs on buses and billboards, new training guides, and more.
  • Strengthen the whistleblower program. As the number of whistleblower statutes under its jurisdiction continues to expand, OSHA will continue to strengthen its whistleblower protection program
  • Address the alarmingly high rate of worker injuries and illnesses in hospitals and health care. OSHA is developing guidance products.
  • Work closely with industries like the oil and gas sector to protect workers. Due to the success of the safety stand down in Oklahoma, additional events have been planned in Texas, Montana, and North Dakota.
  • Develop new ways to approach dangerously outdated chemical standards. The GAO recently reported, the current complexity of the rulemaking process makes it prohibitively difficult to issue new standards in a reasonable amount of time. One challenge is to develop news ways to approach the issue of Permissible Exposure Limits, both from the enforcement and standard setting perspectives.
  • Protect temporary and contingent workers. OSHA is working with Wage and Hour — its sister agency — on protecting these workers. It has begun reaching out to temporary workers through day labor and construction groups, and as the agency moves forward it plans to amplify its efforts to ensure that temporary workers are getting the training and information they need to be safe at work.
December 12th, 2012

Most companies know how tough it can be to develop, deliver and maintain training programs. They know training is a critical element of any company’s operations because it allows the company to maintain safety standards, implement new technologies and educate new employees. The challenge is how to provide cost-effective training when the priority is managing day-to-day operations.

Companies face many issues such as identifying specific training needs, developing and delivering training programs that address those needs, and measuring their effectiveness. Additionally, companies need the right policies and procedures to sustain the benefits of training and ensure consistent operations.

Workforce performance professionals leverage their industry-wide expertise to develop customized methods and processes to help companies manage protocol, increase operational efficiency and improve safety. By outsourcing these services, companies can achieve higher productivity and success, while improving their bottom line, because it frees them and their employees to focus on what they do best -– their jobs.

And they can outsource affordably. Smaller companies can get more robust training support for a fraction of the cost, while larger companies can get help with unique projects.

According to the Outsourcing Institute, some of the top reasons for outsourcing are to:

  • Reduce and control operating costs
  • Improve company focus
  • Gain access to world-class capabilities
  • Free internal resources for other purposes
  • Supplement internal resources
  • Accelerate reengineering benefits

By outsourcing training, companies eliminate the challenges of managing this function internally. Those challenges include:

  • Expertise. Employees may be subject matter experts, but they are not well-equipped to design and deliver effective training geared to adult learning.
  • Time. Employees must focus on their jobs and are not always able to dedicate time to create or manage well-designed training programs.
  • Performance. Employees don’t always have the opportunity to develop their skills and may not be qualified to manage training programs.

All three can impact the bottom line by increasing operational expenses. In many cases, it is cost prohibitive to create an internal training department that can handle all of a company’s training needs and it would not be cost-effective to employ certain learning specialists full-time.

Outsourcing often is the most cost-effective way to address training. Whether a company needs a comprehensive training program or a one-time project, workforce performance professionals offer the most up-to-date solutions.

The best training programs are designed to meet the specific needs of the organization and, more specifically, the intended audience. They begin with a thorough needs assessment that identifies issues and sets goals, providing the framework for a plan. The design, development, management and delivery of a successful program are time- and resource-intensive, which is why in-house training departments are not always feasible or cost-effective.

Professionals with expertise in human performance and adult learning are best suited to create and manage training programs. They consider factors such as attention span, differences in learning styles and generational knowledge gaps before designing training modules to teach a variety of skills. And they teach in ways that are targeted to the learner, including traditional classrooms, online, simulators and on the job.

Workforce development specialists have the tools to assess an employee’s foundational knowledge and retention of material, and to determine if they attained the skills necessary to perform a specific job. They have the expertise to look across an industry and identify key factors to deliver the best training. They provide accountability by establishing specific goals and metrics for a program, and then they monitor for success.

Outsourcing training and procedures and policy creation makes economic sense. Workforce performance professionals have the subject matter expertise and experience in training, organizational psychology, professional development, adult learning, instructional systems design and more. They offer objective analyses of training and procedure needs and provide customized solutions that allow companies to achieve maximum productivity and safety, while saving time and money.

October 16th, 2012

Courtesy of Summit, a Liberty Mutual Company

Returning injured employees to work has become more and more important in controlling claims costs. However, it is easy to think that you don’t need a formal return-to-work program—until it’s too late.

Dollars and sense

No matter how safe a business strives to be, accidents can still happen. The National Safety Council reports that a disabling injury occurs every 1 second in the U.S. (more than 63,000 every day), and the Social Security Administration predicts that 1 out of 4 workers entering the workforce today will acquire some type of disability before they retire.

The current economic climate and its subsequent effect on employment have called attention to the importance of doing what it takes to get employees back to work as quickly as possible. Research consistently shows that injured employees recover faster, are more satisfied with their care, return to their full-duty positions sooner, and are released from medical care earlier if they work for companies that offer transitional duty. Effective return-to-work programs can also cut workers’ compensation premium costs, so you have some solid reasons to implement your own program.

nullComp claims cost more now than ever before. The National Safety Council reports that a single work-related disabling injury costs an average of $48,000. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) estimates that the medical costs are currently about 60 percent of the overall cost of a lost-time claim—and climbing. As an employer, you cannot control the high medical and pharmaceutical costs driving this hike, but you can affect the other cost—indemnity—which is the cost of paying an employee (who may be well enough to work at a modified or alternate job) to stay at home. A strong return-to-work program allows you to control this part of your comp dollars—and could impact the medical portion as well.

It may seem counterintuitive to pay injured employees their salary for modified or alternate work (especially because this type of work can carry a perception of decreased productivity), but the alternative is to let them use their workers’ comp benefits to earn a nearly full salary—for zero productivity. More, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), points out that the odds of an injured employee ever returning to work drop by 50 percent at the twelfth week of disability. A claim lasting that long could affect your workers’ compensation premium for several years.

Increased protection from litigation is another significant benefit for offering medically appropriate alternate work. Offering a job puts you in a much stronger position because it’s tough to argue that an employee who rejected a reasonable offer to return to work should expect to receive long-term work comp benefits. Without a return-to-work job offer, the odds of having a judge remove an employee from workers’ comp benefits drops significantly. In a nutshell, employers who routinely make good faith job offers have stronger results in court.

A 2010 study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute found that workers are more likely to seek legal help when they feel threatened. Since return-to-work programs offer assurance to employees that their jobs are available, they are a huge plus. They also help combat fraud and provide timely, positive communication. According to the California Workers’ Compensation Institute, calling injured employees within a week after an accident to talk about their value to the company reduces the chance of a lawsuit by 50 percent. Those are odds worth cultivating.

Upcoming mod changes

NCCI uses a complex formula that spreads the cost of loss through members of an industry likely to experience similar workers’ compensation injuries. For fairness, they apply the formula to each company’s actual payroll and loss data over the prior three-year period to create an experience modification factor (mod). A 1.00 mod means you had the expected number of accidents, and you pay the average rate. You could pay less if your mod is lower than 1.00. Companies with a higher loss history (resulting in a higher mod) pay more in premium. And since the cost of an accident is less predictable than the frequency, NCCI has long given greater weight (and penalty) to companies that suffer multiple accidents versus those who might have one large claim. However, a significant change to this process—the first in 25 years—is on the horizon.

nullThe anticipated change in NCCI’s mod calculation—if approved—is proposed to begin rolling out in 2013. It is a gradual, three-year increase intended to compensate for the jump in overall claim expenses in the past years. The new formula will impact claims differently so that a company with several small losses actually receives a higher mod than a company with a single, larger loss.

The goal that employers will want to shoot for is safe workplaces and a mod of 1.00 or lower. And one significant way to get there is to implement a solid return-to-work program now—before an accident happens.

The time is now

The short story is that it’s worth the effort to find light-duty positions for injured workers while they recover. Having a return-to-work program gives you a tool to manage your workers’ comp costs, and it’s the one variable you can control in this ever-changing economy. The small up-front costs beat the potential landslide of long-term claim-related expenses.

August 8th, 2012

On August 8, 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that requires everyone from clerks to senior management to receive some form of Designated Operator Training. This training must be completed on or before August 8, 2012. This law significantly affects all underground storage tank programs and will require major changes to existing policies and procedures.

The goal of this legislation is to reduce underground storage tank releases to our environment. This is a national requirement and is mandatory for all underground storage tank (UST) operators. The type of training required will depend on the individual job responsibilities of the employee operating the tanks. However, all operators must eventually have some understanding of UST systems as it pertains to leak detection, spill prevention, over-fill prevention, corrosion protection and emergency response procedures.

A few states still need to finalize their requirements and will have later dates. In those states without final requirements, operators do not need to meet training requirements until their state issues final requirements.

Three classes of operators are designated by the requirement include:

  • Class A Operator is any person having primary responsibility for on-site operation and maintenance of underground storage tank systems. Class This operator may be the owner/operator, an employee or a contractor with general knowledge and understanding of the UST system.
  • Class B Operator is any person having daily on-site responsibility for the operation and maintenance of underground storage tank systems. This can be employees or a contractor with in-depth knowledge and understanding of the UST systems. They must know how to operate and maintain the system as well as possess a thorough understanding of the federal and state regulatory requirements that apply.
  • Class C Operator is any on-site employee having primary responsibility for addressing emergencies presented by a spill or release from an underground storage tank system. This employee can be trained by a Class A, B or A/B Operator. They should understand emergency procedures know how to respond to alarms at the facility.

These requirements will present new challenges and impose new responsibilities upon UST owners and operators across the nation. Compliance with your state specific operator training requirements is a regulatory requirement that in the end could be your greatest resource for avoiding the environmental liability associated with petroleum spills.

Contact OCCU-TEC to learn more about training and our designated operator services.

June 25th, 2012

The violations involve deficient lockout/tagout procedures, a lack of machine guarding, defective slings, poor housekeeping, a lack of protective footwear, and failing to have legible load ratings on slings.

OSHA has cited National Vinyl Products Inc. and subsidiary NVP Hospitality Design LLC, both located in St. Genevieve, Mo., with a total of 30 safety and health violations, including three repeat violations for failing to properly ground electrical equipment and a lack of machine guarding. Proposed penalties total $199,800.

OSHA initiated a follow-up inspection of National Vinyl Products Inc. in December 2011 after inspections in May 2009 and April 2010 resulted in citations for a variety of violations. The most recent inspection resulted in citations for 12 violations. OSHA initiated a concurrent inspection of NVP Hospitality Design LLC based on a report of unsafe working conditions, which resulted in citations for 18 violations.

“Employers have a responsibility to protect the safety of their workers,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “It is imperative that employers make the commitment to safety and health to ensure that employees are not continually exposed to hazards like these.”

One repeat violation at National Vinyl Products is failing to ground electrical equipment. Two repeat violations at NVP Hospitality Design involve a lack of machine guarding and using flexible cords that are not grounded. These violations previously were cited during the 2009 and 2010 inspections.

National Vinyl Products has been cited with a failure-to-abate violation for not correcting machine guarding deficiencies cited during an April 2010 inspection of the facility.

Nine serious safety and health violations at National Vinyl Products involve deficient lockout/tagout procedures, a lack of machine guarding, defective slings, poor housekeeping, a lack of protective footwear, and failing to have legible load ratings on slings.

Fourteen serious safety and health violations at NVP Hospitality Design involve deficient lockout/tagout procedures, a lack of machine guarding, and a lack of personal protective equipment including eyewear. Other hazards cited involve a lack of fall protection and failing to train workers who use powered industrial trucks, properly store and label flammable liquids, and implement a hazard communication program.

Three other-than-serious violations relate to a lack of certification for hazard assessments at both companies and record-keeping deficiencies at NVP Hospitality Design.

Proposed penalties total $119,700 for National Vinyl Products and $80,100 for NVP Hospitality Design.

May 22nd, 2012

Even under the nose of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters, unnecessary and dangerous exposure to asbestos still is occurring, leading directly to long-term health concerns now in Washington, D.C.

The union representing Capitol police force filed an official complaint with the Office of Compliance for failing to warn or protect its officers from exposure during the three-month, asbestos abatement project in the Senate subway tunnels.

The story was detailed in The Hill, a news-gathering website focused on the nation’s Capitol.

According to a copy of the complaint, police officers were stationed in the subway tunnels without the proper safety equipment while the removal of asbestos was being done under the watch of the EPA. The abatement was being performed as part of a project to install a new sprinkler system in the tunnels.

An exposure to the tiny asbestos fibers can lead to a number of serious health problems, included mesothelioma, which could mask itself for decades during a lengthy latency period. Experts have concurred that no amount of asbestos exposure is considered safe.

  • Mesothelioma
  • Mesothelioma Treatment
  • Top Doctors
  • Patient Resources
  • Asbestos Exposure
  • Veterans and Mesothelioma
  • Legal Options

This not the first time that asbestos exposure has been a concern at the Capitol. Members of the Capitol Power Plant tunnel crew raised the issue in 2006 when a local environmental laboratory found asbestos in the air at dangerous levels.

Police officer normally is considered an high risk occupation for asbestos exposure. Officers , like firefighters often are first-responders to emergency situations, moving into areas unprotected against environmental hazards like asbestos.

As a glaring example, many New York City police officers have experienced respiratory issues stemming from exposure from the 9/11 terrorist attack at the World Trade Center more than a decade ago.

The asbestos removal at the Capitol was done during the weekends. A notice in advance was sent to all building occupants, including Senators and their staffs and the Capitol police.

Senate superintendent Robin Morey detailed many of the precautions in the memo back in January:

“Employees conducting the abatement have current EPA certifications , personal protective equipment and necessary training. . . . The work will be supervised by an EPA accredited supervisor. . . . Areas where the abatement of ACM (asbestos containing material) is taking place will be fully enclosed with a sealed containment. . . . We are taking all necessary precautions to ensure public and Senate staff safety.”

The union’s complaint, according to The Hill reporter, alleges that the officers on duty nearby were not notified by management of the asbestos hazards, and requests to reassign officers in the area were ignored.

Part of the complaint alleges that there were no posted signs in the immediate area of asbestos removal.

A Capitol police spokesperson, though, told The Hill that all necessary precautions were taken.

Asbestos has been a priority for years with the EPA, which his charged with enforcing regulations to protect human health and the environment. It was listed as one of the top seven priorities for 2012 by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

May 8th, 2012

OSHA’s recently published the final rule to adopt the Global Harmonization System (GHS), whichaccording to them will not change the framework and scope of the current Hazard CommunicationStandard (HCS) but will help ensure improved consistency in the classification and labeling of allworkplace chemicals. GHS provides a single set of harmonized criteria for classifying chemicalsaccording to their health and physical hazards and specifies hazard communication elements for labelingand safety data sheets. Under GHS, labels would include signal words, pictograms, and hazard andprecautionary statements and safety data sheets would have standardized format. This system wasagreed on at an international level by governments, industry, and labor, and adopted by the UN in 2002with a goal of 2008 for implementation.

According to OSHA this change will affect over 40 million workers in about 5 million workplaces. Thechange to GHS was a long time in coming and necessary as the global chemical business is more than a$1.7 trillion per year enterprise. In the U.S., chemicals are more than a $450 billion business and exportsare greater than $80 billion per year. Existing laws and regulations are currently different enoughto require multiple labels for the same product both within the U.S. and in international trade andrequiring multiple safety data sheets for the same product in international trade. Several U.S. regulatoryagencies and various countries also have different requirements for hazard definitions as well as forinformation to be included on labels or material safety data sheets. GHS effectively establishes agreedhazard classification and communication provisions with explanatory information on how to apply thesystem worldwide.

It is important to remember that GHS itself is not a regulation or a standard. The GHS Document(referred to as “The Purple Book”) is simply a mechanism to meet the basic requirements of anyhazard communication system, which is to decide if the chemical product produced and/or supplied ishazardous and to prepare a label and/or Safety Data Sheet as appropriate. OSHA’s HCS will incorporatethe needed elements of GHS to make international trade and commerce easier.

Of course with change comes the need for training. Employers will need to have trained their employeesregarding the new label elements and safety data sheets format by December 1, 2013 with fullimplementation of GHS taking place December 1, 2015.

OSHA has published a side-by-side comparison of the current HCS with the new GHS elementsincorporated which can be found here. If you need more information or training contact Greg Lemke atglemke@occutec.com who would be happy to help you find the needed resources.

April 24th, 2012

A new report from the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 24 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involve cell phone use and outlines how advances in legislation, enforcement, technology, culture and corporate policies could help save lives and make the roads safer.

The report, “State of the Nation of Cell Phone Distracted Driving,” was released April 12 and comes 3 years after NSC called for the first nationwide ban on all cell phone use while driving. The report reveals that NSC estimates cell phone use, whether handheld or hands-free, contributes to more than 1 million crashes a year, or 21 percent of all crashes. An additional 3 percent involve text messaging.

In an April 12 press call, John Ulczycki, group vice president of strategic initiatives at NSC, called cell phone use while driving “a significant, growing risk” and said the data on distracted driving crashes is “severely underreported.”

NSC’s report indicated that it is difficult to determine the full scope of the distracted driving problem because drivers are reluctant to admit their behavior; there is no “test” for distracted driving as with a blood-alcohol test for drunk driving; distracted drivers often have no witnesses; there is a lack of evidence in fatal crashes; law enforcement faces time and resource limitations; and it is difficult to obtain cell phone records at the time of a crash.

Risk and Prevalence

Ulczycki also addressed the common perception that cell phones are only one of many potential driving distractions and should therefore not be such a concern. In reality, he said, the existence of other distractions does not mean that these distractions are as prevalent or as risky as talking on a cell phone while driving.

“Cell phones are not the most dangerous or risky thing that people can do in their automobiles, yet because of the prevalence of their use, they are the distraction involved in the most crashes,” Ulczycki said.

For example, turning around to talk to kids in the backseat of the car while driving may be more dangerous than using a cell phone, but this type of behavior is not nearly as prevalent among drivers as cell phone use. Similarly, drinking coffee or changing the radio station while driving is perhaps more prevalent than using a cell phone, but this behavior is not nearly as risky as cell phone use.

“It’s not just the risk but the risk combined with the prevalence that sets cell phone use apart from any other distraction,” Ulczycki said. “Texting is a much more dangerous activity than talking, but talking [on a cell phone] is much more prevalent, which is why talking leads to 6-7 times more crashes.”

Corporate Policies

Many employers take a leading role in distracted driving reform by creating policies that completely ban employees’ use of cell phones while driving. NSC estimates that more than 3 million employees are covered by total cell phone bans at work.

“Employers [implement] cell phone policies because they want to prevent injuries to employees. It’s really no different than what they’re doing in their workplace,” Ulczycki said. “Employers who care about their employees and manage their safety in all aspects of their job put total ban policies in place because they know they have a responsibility to keep their employees safe.”

Some companies currently maintain policies that address handheld cell phone use only, requiring employees to use hands-free devices while driving. The research shows, however, that hands-free devices are no safer than handheld phones. Ulczycki said companies may implement these partial bans to conform to state laws, as an intermediate step toward a total ban or because they do not understand that the same risks are inherent in hands-free cell phone use.

“Many companies have policies, procedures [and] best practices that go far beyond what OSHA laws require,” he added. “The same thing is true here.”

Outside of the workplace, NSC calls for additional legislation for distracted driving, high-visibility enforcement, technological solutions that prevent incoming and outgoing calls while driving and a cultural shift that does not accept cell phone use while driving.

To read the report in full, visit http://distracteddriving.nsc.org.