Cellphones have become part of the lives of most people in California, so much so that they go nowhere without their mobile phones. Many workers may not understand why employers discourage or even forbid cellphone activities during work time. A superintendent of a masonry manufacturer in another state recently tested the theory that cellphones on the worksite adversely impact productivity and worker safety, which often lead to workers’ compensation claims for injuries suffered in preventable accidents.
The workers had to hand over their mobile phones upon their arrival at work. The superintendent kept the cellphones throughout the morning shift and returned them to the workers when they were on their lunch breaks. Two workers were asked to share the activity that occurred on their phones during that time. One worker received over 100 notifications, and the other person’s phone showed he missed 60.
These numbers included calls, text messages, social media alerts and emails. This information was used in safety training to show how many interruptions occur during each shift. In industries such as manufacturing, construction, transportation and other high-risk work environments, interruptions by cellphones affect much more than productivity and the bottom line. The mobile phone owner risks not only his or her safety but also the safety of co-workers.
California workers are entitled to file workers’ compensation claims for coverage of medical expenses and lost wages after work-related injuries. The insurance program is a no-fault system, assuring workers that they might be eligible even if they were responsible for their own injuries. However, if a workplace accident was caused by an independent contractor who was distracted by a mobile phone, there might be grounds to file a third-party civil lawsuit. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assess the viability of such a claim, and then provide support and guidance with the navigation of a workers’ compensation claim and a civil lawsuit.