With individual states passing legislation governing cell phone use while driving, it has initiated the conversation about its interference in other venues – like on job and construction sites.
Whether immersed in a conversation or a momentary interruption, cell phones on job sites should be used cautiously. A momentary re-direction of concentration away from one’s surroundings is a natural tendency that happens with little warning when engrossed in a call.
These hand held devices that have revolutionized how we manage our lives and facilitate communication at manufacturing plants and job sites poses the same dangers they can when using them on the road. Their use distracts us from the task at hand. They cause our attention to focus on the conversation or the text and not on the environs. A habit that can put our co-workers and ourselves at risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cite three main types of distractions that take a driver’s attention away from the focus on the road:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
- Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving
A typical job site is littered with industrial vehicles, forklifts, cranes, and power tools. A hard hat and a cell phone sort of place you in a “cone of silence”. That combo of protective gear and a conversation can easily hinder your ability to know you are in a vicinity requiring vigilance.
There are obvious activities during installations when the focus is on installing our static and structural lightning protection products: the use of a cell phone during such times has a direct impact on quality control. No one can give 100% to an installation when distracted by a call. Our recommendations for cell phone use on job sites:
- If you need to use your cellphone, first take account of the activity and potential hazards in your immediate vicinity
- When in doubt, move to a safe location anyway before returning calls, checking emails, responding to texts
- Block out a time (during a break) or when the coast is clear to use mobile devices
- Never use your cellphone while operating vehicles or heavy machinery or during an installation
- Try to limit personal calls/cellphone engagement during company time as it does detract from the job and in our line of work, puts all of us at risk
The reality of our cell phones and tablets and Apple watches are that we are lost without them; disconnected from our contacts, our calendars, our reminders, and Google. These are our communication tools without which we likely cannot conduct most, if any, business.
But in an industry dedicated to protecting equipment and people from the devastation of lightning; our Job One is safety. Safety first and always. The irony here is that the biggest threat to that safety is not just the one dealt by lightning, but one that is literally in our hands to control. Whether you are an employee of ours, or not, don’t let technological reliance place you in harm’s way. Communicate Responsibly.