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New Survey Reveals Digital Distraction Causes Significant Industrial Work Accidents

The average person spends a significant amount of time on digital devices, such as phones, tablets, and computers. A new survey by Screen Education finds that on average, an employee spends an estimated 2.5 hours out of every workday accessing digital content that is not related to their job. Screen Education is a research organization dedicated to addressing technology addiction through education and counseling. They collaborated on the survey with EMI Research Solutions and Stark Statistical Consulting.

The survey contains new information from April 2020, and the study involved 1,019 American employees across a broad spectrum of industries and geographic areas. Ages of the workers surveyed ranged from 18 to 75 years old and older, and the gender balance was 51 percent female and 49 percent male.

Distraction Puts Employees at Risk for Accidents

The researchers at Screen Education concluded that digital distraction is a great risk for employers and employees. Many workday hours spent doing something other than work lowers productivity. Workplace accidents damage property, but also result in injuries and even fatalities. Almost 50 percent of the survey participants said their employers had policies restricting the use of smartphones. Nearly 90 percent of them said that the reason for the policy had been clearly explained to them, but employees still spend hours distracted by digital devices because employers do not seem to enforce the rules.

In the survey, common accidents from distraction included slip and fall accidents, walking into objects, and car accidents in company vehicles. In industrial settings, the rate of accidents was higher, and the type of injuries were more severe due to the operation of heavy machinery and equipment. Survey participants described the following industrial accidents and injuries that occurred while using smart devices:

  • Limbs being crushed
  • Loss of fingers while operating equipment
  • Crane operators losing and crashing loads
  • Workers failing to respond to emergencies because of music
  • Forklift drivers running into other employees

Out of the participants who reported digital distraction at work, 58 percent said that the accidents were fatal.

Who is Digitally Distracted at Work?

According to researchers at Screen Education, the amount of time spent accessing non-work-related digital content directly correlated to the ages of the workers. Workers who were 18 to 34 years old admitted to spending 3.1 hours daily or 45 minutes or more each day on smart devices. Employees who were 35 to 54 years old spent the least amount of time on their devices.

These numbers are up from the 2019 survey in which respondents estimated their time accessing digital content at 1.4 hours. At that time, 65 percent of employers said digital distraction was a problem at work.

What Can I Do to Prevent Digital Distraction at Work?

Employers and employees must prioritize safety at work, including minimizing distractions of all kinds. Anything that interrupts work processes can potentially cause work accidents. When a worker interrupts the task at hand to look at their phone for any reason, they are risking an accident and injury.

An employer should establish a clear policy regarding the use of digital devices, including smartphones, tablets, and iPods. Policies must be tailored to the workplace. In some settings, listening to low volume music with a headset is appropriate, while in others, it could prevent someone from hearing a safety alarm or backup signal. Allowing frequent breaks in schedules gives employees a chance to rest, eat and drink, and catch up on texts and calls, which will minimize distractions at work.

Workers should be informed of company policies regarding digital devices. All employees should be trained on the hazards of digital distraction. It is also important that workers have ways to report digital distraction without fearing retaliation. Posting policies in danger zones and breakrooms can remind employees to be vigilant.

Why is it Important to Always Follow Safety Rules?

Work accidents can be reduced if employees keep the following safety rules in mind:

  • Never interrupt a work process or task without first shutting down equipment or disengaging tools.
  • Keep instructional manuals and procedural guidelines on hand for reference.
  • Put away smartphones.
  • Disable notifications and instant messaging. Be courteous to colleagues, and do not distract them.

What Should I Do After a Work Accident?

Anyone injured in a work accident should inform their supervisor or manager right away and be treated by a medical professional, even if the injuries appear to be minor. Minor injuries can develop into more serious problems in the future. Seeing a doctor establishes a medical record related to the work accident and improves the chances of an approved Workers’ Compensation claim.

After an injured worker gets medical care, it is important to speak to a lawyer. A lawyer will help a worker file a claim for benefits and help the worker get the maximum amount of compensation that is available.

Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Help Injured Workers Receive Benefits

Digital distraction causes many work accidents. If you have work-related injuries, contact our Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. We can help you file a claim to get benefits. Call us at 412-765-1888 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Pittsburgh, we serve clients throughout western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.

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