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Workers’ compensation: The risks of distracted walking at work

| May 25, 2020 | Workers' Compensation |

There is no shortage of awareness campaigns and warnings about the dangers of distracted driving. However, not enough attention is paid to distracted walking in California workplaces. A significant number of workers’ compensation claims involve injuries suffered while workers were talking or texting on their cellphones.

The National Safety Council’s statistics on injury facts now include distracted walking, although the analysis does not include work-related incidents. Statistics show that more than half of the reported injuries linked to cellphone distractions happen at home, and women are more likely to suffer such injuries, especially in age groups younger than 40. Safety authorities warn that distracted walking in work environments is a significant problem.

While the list of potential injuries caused by distracted walking is endless, the most frequently cited causes include walking into objects or over unprotected edges. Falling into open holes happens frequently, and distracted workers could be struck and run over by motorized equipment like forklifts. Workers who are distracted by their smartphones are more likely to trip over objects, and walk under suspended or overhead loads.

Although the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has strict safety standards to prevent such workplace injuries, many employers fail to monitor cellphone usage on work sites. However, the state-regulated workers’ compensation insurance program is a no-fault system that covers injured workers regardless of who was at fault. An attorney who has experience in this field of the law can provide valuable support and guidance throughout the benefits claims process to recover medical expenses and lost wages.