Thanks to cellphones, we’re always connected. But we're also constantly distracted. Too often, light industrial employees check their phones continually in the workplace — putting themselves and others at risk for injury. Besides safety considerations, mobile phone usage on the factory floor can negatively impact a company’s bottom line with a loss in worker productivity.
Face it: Most of us always have a cellphone with us, and it’s rarely turned off. Last year, a Pew Research Center study found that over 90 percent of American adults own a cellphone — with 67 percent of them being smartphones. We are constantly looking at our phones: A recent study showed that the average person looks at their cellphone 46 times a day. And the younger you are, the more you check your phone, people between the ages of 18 and 24 check their phones a whopping 74 times per day.
Light industrial employees are no different. But the difference is that by when they check their phones while working, it adds an unnecessary risk factor to the work environment. In the absence of guidelines, the risk for employee phone abuse expands. While it's true that sometimes employees will get an emergency call while they’re at work, ideally these calls should be funneled into the human resources office.
Try instituting rules regarding when employees can and can’t use their phones. This approach has a few payoffs: A safer workplace and better productivity. Get started by checking out a sample cellphone use policy as suggested by the Society for Human Resource Management.
Other potential starting points for workplace cell etiquette include the following tips.
Allow a minute at the end of each hour for employees to check phones.
In today’s world, people now check their phones first thing upon waking and the last thing before going to bed. But employees need to resist the urge to check their phones while working on the production line for their safety and others’. It turns out that by giving your employees sanctioned time to check their phones — say once at the end of each hour — you allow them to respond to a text message or check for an emergency call. One benefit of this approach is that you treat your workers with respect — you acknowledge that their phone plays a big role in their daily life.
Take away cellphones if they are seen.
One of the most common challenges to productivity is a cellphone. And if you can see text messages coming in, you’re most likely going to read them, leading to counterproductive and dangerous behavior in the workplace. For their part, employers need to establish a policy where a cellphone is immediately confiscated - and returned later - if seen on the factory floor.
Encourage employees to leave mobile phones in their car or locker, or set them to “do not disturb” mode.
It’s important to let your employees know that personal matters, like checking their phone for messages, should be strictly conducted on breaks — not while they’re working.
In the end, your best bet for a safe and productive workplace is to create and strictly enforce phone policies for industrial workers. Companies who fail to do so run the risk of employee injury.