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DOT and OSHA Join Forces to Combat Distracted Driving

In workers compensation defense news, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis recently announced that the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was joining forces with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) in an effort to crack down on the dangers of distracted driving .

Specifically, the two agencies will seek to: 1) reprimand employers whose policies encourage distracted driving (i.e., texting while driving) and 2) educate employers lacking clearly defined polices on distracted driving.

"It is imperative that employers eliminate financial and other incentives that encourage workers to text while driving. It is well recognized that texting while driving dramatically increases the risk of a motor vehicle [work] injury or fatality," said Solis.

There is no denying the dangers of distracted driving. According to DOT estimates, nearly 5,500 people were killed in distracted-driving accidents in the United States last year.

One of the main highlights of the joint endeavor is a multi-faceted OSHA initiative.

Some of the key components of this OSHA initiative include:

• Formation of strategic alliances with the National Safety Council and other safety advocacy groups dedicated to educating employers about the dangers of distracted driving and helping them implement the necessary policies

• Posting of an open letter to employees on the OSHA website, as well as model policies and procedures

• Coordination with other federal agencies to inform younger employees of the dangers of distracted driving

• Launch of a formal educational campaign for all employers during "Drive Safely Work Week" (held the week of October 4)

• Investigation and issuance of citations/penalties upon receipt of a credible complaints that an employer is encouraging or requiring texting while driving

 "We call upon all employers to prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages workers to text while driving. The Occupational Safety and Health Act is clear; employers must provide a workplace free of recognized hazards," said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA.

Stay tuned for further other developments in the area of workers' compensation defense ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:
• OSHA Launching Initiative to Discourage Texting While Driving on the Job (United States Department of Labor)
• Summit Calls for Reduction in Distracted Driving (ABC News)

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