Cell phone generation

Cell phone generation

Posted on May 17, 2017

With all the talk about texting and driving and the use of cell phones in the workplace, it made me wonder. What happened to the time when people waited until they got home to make or receive a phone call? Has convenience come at the expense of safety?

The age of the cell phone has people talking and/or texting while driving at the expense of their wellbeing. Study after study has shown that the human brain simply cannot perform basic safety functions like watching for the hazards on the road while using a mobile device. Distracted drivers are a danger to themselves and others.

What’s more, I walk into to a restaurant and can’t get service because employees are too busy texting instead of concentrating on their jobs. I’ve seen manufacturing workers glued to their screens on the shop floor; unaware of their surroundings. Why does this happen? Isn’t driving a privilege and a safe workplace trump the convenience of a cell phone?

This trend has spiraled so far out of control that laws and heavy fines have been put in place to remedy these behaviors. Some employers even have policies that limit how and when employees can use their mobile devices while at work. Others don’t want cell phones in the working area at all – employees can be penalized with days off without pay, or even fired if caught using a mobile device on their shift. Yet people still ignore the rules. So what’s an employer to do? If heavy fines and demerits aren’t changing the behaviours, what will?

Collective problem, collective response
Mobile technology is here to stay. Legislative measures, industry support, technological improvements and a societal shift into what’s deemed acceptable will all play important roles in changing behaviours.

Educate your workforce
Shifting perceptions and behaviours isn’t easy. It took decades of public awareness and education efforts for drinking and driving or smoking to be considered socially unacceptable behaviours. While there’s no quick fix, engaging employees on the specific workplace hazards they create that endanger both themselves as well as their co-workers is key to success. Workers need to see how using that cell phone can not only get them in trouble, but it could create a situation where they or someone else could get seriously injured or killed. In environments where cell phone use in the workplace presents a danger, employees need to understand that no message or phone call is worth getting fired over or dying over!

Risk assessment and job hazards analysis
Using a mobile device in the workplace isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For some employees, cell use is a requirement to performing their jobs. In other roles, cell phones use can run a the gambit from acceptable to an unacceptable risk. Rather than a blanket policy, employers who develop rules based on role-specific risk assessment and job hazard analysis are more likely to gain employee buy in. When workers can clearly correlate their behavior with specific risks that drive the rules and regulations, they’re more inclined to follow the policy.

Formal policies
Lastly, it can be a mistake to assume common sense will prevail – there’s no such thing. Just look at how many motorists continue to ignore distracted driving laws despite an understanding of the risks. Consider developing guidelines on the use of cell phones in your organization. Train employees and ensure enforcement is applied fairly and proportionately to the behaviour. Developing a policy is the easy part, educating your workers and enforcing the policy is where it gets tough, but with proper training and supervision it will be become the norm in your organization.

Next steps
Is cell phone abuse a problem in your organization? Or maybe you’d rather take a proactive approach before it becomes one? The safety experts at Made Safe are here to help and can provide the guidance and support you need to ensure cell phones in your workplace are safe and effective communication tools. Call or email us today!

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