Rationale: On January 1, 2019, amendments to Ontario’s distracted driving laws significantly increased the penalties for convicted motorists. The Ontario Court of Justice has applied the same legal standard for distracted driving that applies in the context of motoring on public roadways to the operation of a forklift within an industrial establishment.
Hazard: Like motorists who unlawfully hold or use cellphones or other mobile communication devices while operating a motor vehicle at a stand-still or driving in Ontario, WORKERS that use cellphones or other mobile communication devices while operating equipment or
machines in factories or warehouses, such as a forklift, would also
pose the same danger to themselves or others, as a consequence
of being distracted to what is going on around them while using
those mobile communication devices.
Consequences: Distracted working will be treated just as severely as distracted driving. Employers and workers who ignore this warning do so at their own peril. A worker can be charged with distracted driving’ under the OHSA (i.e. “operating equipment… in a manner that may endanger… a worker”).
Policy tips for employers:
- Make it clear that cell phone use could potentially endanger workers in the workplace
- Implement policies and practices forbidding the use of cell phones in safety-sensitive situations whether the vehicle is in motion or at a standstill
- Safety Talks and Posters in the work areas can help to reinforce the importance of working safely and managing the safety of using mobile devices
- Have clear signage in areas where cell phones are prohibited
Tips to avoid distracted Driving and Working:
- Turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode to avoid tempting to check your phone
- Put your phone in the glove compartment or locker
- Before you leave the house or start work, record an outgoing message that tells callers you’re driving or working and you’ll get back to them when you’re not working
- if you must make a call or send a text, pull over to a secure area or use voice activated software
- Use an APP that can block incoming calls and texts, or send automatic replies to people trying to call or text you
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