♦♦♦     SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE     ♦♦♦

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies. One of the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance is to examine our behaviour when driving and working and be ruthlessly honest about our true concern for the safety, not only of ourselves, but those around us.

Manslaughter or Murder?

I am not talking here about the Oscar Pistorius trial or pre-judging the case with a guilty or not guilty verdict.

I am talking about using a cell phone!

Talking and texting (SMS) on a cell phone, while operating a machine, plant or equipment, like cranes, trains and planes, or while driving vehicles, is a major safety hazard. Just imagine being the cause of a fatal accident as a direct result of talking or texting on a cell phone. An astute prosecuting attorney would argue that keeping your cell phone on while driving constitutes intent and that hence you would be guilty of, at least, manslaughter! This might sound harsh, but the reality is that taking your eyes off the road to look at your cell phone screen, even for a few seconds, can result in you being directly responsible for the death of another human being.

Before you read further, I strongly urge you to check out Jill Konrath’s blog and the video link in her post (see Related Reading [1] below), to see what happened to her husband, Fred, and to Dave and Leslee Henson as a direct result of a driver texting while driving. Pay particular attention to “The eye-opening facts on distracted driving“.

www.stopthetextsstopthewrecks.blogspot.com

Cell phones, as enablers of instant connection, are a communication and networking blessing, but at the same time, they are a safety curse. There is nothing so important that it justifies compromising safety. Nowadays, we behave as though the world will come to an end if we don’t immediately answer a call or read and reply to text messages! Nonsense! What happens when you take a flight? The airlines insist you switch off your phone, period. Believe me, the world goes on for the next hour or even 10 hours. Calls and messages must (and can) wait. Why not adopt the same attitude when driving or operating machinery and equipment? And talking of air planes, how safe would you feel if you knew your pilot was texting on his / her cell phone while busy landing the plane you’re traveling in?

In the quest to save time we go for multitasking, which is another issue compromising safety (see Related Reading [2] below). Texting while in meetings has become a widespread practice and is now a habit which has spilled over into driving. Furthermore, the issues arising from using cell phones are valid in any situation where people “push the buttons and use the tools”. A ringing cell phone or a text alert breaks the concentration and tempts people to take their eyes off the ball / road / process. Cell phones should be PARKED while “on the job”.

ACTION

Park the Phone Before You Drive!

  • Share this Safety Tip widely and with all your employees, especially the video in Jill Konrath’s blog. Make a copy available for your employees to take home and share with their families (contact me if you need help with this).”
  • Review your company policy for cell phone use in your operating plants and when driving vehicles. This goes also for company-issued cell phones. Become tough with people who violate your “NO CELL WHILE DRIVING / OPERATING” instruction.
  • Why not suspend the ‘licence’ for six months if anyone’s caught using a cell phone while driving / operating a company vehicle / machine or while driving on your company property. That will send a clear message that you are serious! Alternatively, send them on paid leave for a week, to do duty at the ER of a local hospital.

PLEASE drop me a line telling me what you are doing in your company so I can let Fred and Leslee know / show them the good which is coming out of their tragedy.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Heartfelt thanks go out to Fred and Leslee for going public so others might learn from their experience, and to Jill Konrath for writing on this important subject of the dangers of texting while driving.

RELATED READING

[1]   Jill Konrath: “Avoid this Killer Strategy at All Costs”   Blog   Video

[2]   Jurgen Tietz: “Do Not Disturb

[3]   “Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks

FEEDBACK

Your feedback and comments are always welcome! Drop me a line!

Copyright: Jürgen Tietz
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