No Room for Distraction: Cell Phone Usage and Crane Operations

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents and injuries in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that on a daily basis, at least 1,161 people are injured in vehicle crashes that involve a distracted driver. But the safety risks of distracted driving are not limited to personal and commercial motor vehicle drivers. This is also the case for crane operators, who are manning industrial equipment. Hazards of Texting while Driving Anything that takes the driver’s visual, manual, and cognitive attention away from driving is a form of distraction. According to a research commissioned by the Federal Motor Safety Administration (FMSA), when you send a text, your eyes are off the road for an average of 5 seconds. Although that may not seem like much, at 55mph it is equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field! Text messaging while driving a commercial vehicle increases the chances of being involved in a critical safety incident by 23 times. Laws and Policies on Distracted Driving These alarming statistics have pushed at least 46 states to ban all drivers from texting while driving. Aside from state laws on distracted driving, various regulatory authorities have also imposed no-texting policies for industry-specific drivers:
  • In November 2011, FMSA prohibited all commercial drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.
  • The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) rolled out a similar policy for drivers of vehicles that contained hazardous materials back in February 2011.
  • After a deadly crash in September 2008, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) barred all rail employees from using electronic devices while performing work.
Distracted Operation of Cranes and Industrial Equipment Like commercial driving, crane operations require undivided attention from qualified operators. When OSHA first established its crane standards in 1971, there were no smart phones or similar sources of distraction to consider. The regulating body eventually recognized the need to address modern hazards and advanced crane technologies. After decades of research and consultation, OSHA updated its health and safety regulations for cranes and derricks in construction: Subpart CC 1926.1417(d) “The operator must not engage in any practice or activity that diverts his/her attention while actually engaged in operating the equipment, such as the use of cellular phones (other than when used for signal communications).” If electronic devices are going to be used to transmit or receive signals, OSHA standards prohibit hand-held systems: Subpart CC 1926.1420(c) “The operator's reception of signals must be by a hands-free system.” Crane Safety Training Crane operators need to be just as cautious considering the hazards of distracted driving. To prevent accidents and injuries at work, operators must comply with OSHA regulations and undergo necessary crane safety training. Contact to find out which construction safety training solution is ideal for you! Sources:
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