A reader writes: “I cannot get my workers to quit checking/texting/talking on their cell phone. It is not only dangerous but also costs me in lost labor. Any suggestions would be appreciated.”

This is a relatively new phenomenon with the advent of so-called “smart phones” which in many ways seems to make us dumber over time. A great example is that at one time I had memorized key phone numbers of contacts; whereas now I simply pull up the number and hit dial or tell my phone to call “Mary Smith.” I agree with you that distracted workers can be unsafe workers resulting in possible injuries due to walking into things, missing steps, etc. I also believe that cell phone usage (at the wrong time) can reduce productivity since the worker is focused on utilizing an ever-growing number of social media outlets. No one can really do two things at the same time so they are switching back and forth until they get focused on one task and ignore the other. You may note that more and more states are banning texting (or even holding a cell phone) while driving. Enough said. I also believe that there should be concerns about workers using headsets for music while working.

First of all, you need to check with your Human Resources and Legal Department before proceeding since you want to make sure you are on firm legal ground to proceed fairly without discrimination for all workers. The closest analogy that I can provide is suggestive only and that is to have clear written policies (that have been reviewed and signed by all staff) regarding proper, safe use of cell phones. I suggest you consider treating it like cigarette breaks acknowledging that since some people are going to do it, give them approved times to do so that match their rightful breaks. If they are observed using their phones while working, they should be reprimanded the same as violating other safety rules.

I suggest you make sure that NO MANAGEMENT go around using their phones in front of working staff in violation of the policy.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.