Safety and OSHA News

How many people are injured at work while distracted by cell phones?

Researchers have already delved into whether talking on a cell phone is likely to cause vehicle crashes involving injuries and deaths. Now a team in Europe has looked into incidents not involving vehicles, including those at work.

The researchers from Tampere Institute of Technology in Finland found 4.5% of survey respondents said they had “close calls” while on their cell phones at work and 0.4% reported actual workplace incidents.

It appears people are more likely to become injured while speaking on a cell phone during a leisure activity. The percentages go up to 13.7% for close calls and 2.4% for actual incidents.

Other findings:

  • Men tend to have more close calls and incidents
  • Incidents and close calls were more prevalent among younger people, and
  • There was a slight increase in cell phone related incidents and close calls if the person also reported sleep disturbances and minor aches and pains.

More than 6,000 working-age people in Finland answered the survey. The results appear in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

So, do you really have to tell workers that they shouldn’t do things like answer their cell phones while they’re working on ladders or raised platforms? It couldn’t hurt to tell them about the results of this study.

Has a worker been injured at your workplace because of a cell phone distraction? Let us know about it in the Comments below.

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  1. I saw someone texting on their phone as they were walking toward the building and they tripped as they tried to step up (3 inches) onto the walkway. They didn’t fall or get hurt but to be so involved on the phone to not know where you are or what your doing is amazing.

  2. There currently is a lot of interest in making & creating laws to protect people from hazards from cell phone use. However, we need to keep in mind that no matter what “Laws are created” for the most part, people who are foolish & irrisponsible enough to talk / text on a cell phone in traffic while driving will do so no matter what. It is illegal to talk on a cell phone in a school zone – people still do it, children are still hurt. There does need to be something done but yet how can you change or cure stupid? Some may think I am harsh in my statement – however, May 2011 my nephew was killed in a car crash with an 18 wheeler. The driver of the commercial vehicle ran a stop sign while busy with his cellular device. The investigating officers found the driver of the commercial vehicle to be at fault. My nephew was due to graduate college with his architectual design engineering degree. One singular stupid act of one person has disrupted & devastated an entire family. We are a very large and close family. I cannot say much as this is currently being prosecuted through the federal court system due to a death that involves a commercial vehicle. I am certain tha the driver didn’t get up that morning and say “I am going to do something stupid today and kill a young man that hasn’t lived his life” yet it is no different than somebody drinking 2 drinks in an hour (which by the way will put you higher than .08% alcohol limit) and getting into their car, having an accident and killing somebody. The driver under the influence of alcohol did not mean to kill anyone. Yet, the driver that would be under the influence of alcohol would be prosecuted to the limit by society, the law, his peers etc.. The cell phone user is not. I see a double standard in this. Where are the Mother’s Against Drunk Driver’s rallying against cell phone usage? Where are all of the other organizations that scream and hollar and protest if they feel a someone has…

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