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Distracted Walking Leading To Distracted Workplaces

Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - 5:05am
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(Photo by Kathy Ritchie - KJZZ)

First, it was distracted driving. Then, distracted walking became part of our language. Now the issue is making its way into more workplace conversations. A Phoenix-based company that provides worker’s compensation insurance is suggesting businesses take another look at how their employees are handling digital devices.

“It is daily that you see people, you know, with their heads down, and walking off an elevator and running into people,” said Scott Hullinger, director of loss control and risk management with CopperPoint Insurance Companies.

To Hullinger, distracted walkers are more than annoying. He says they can potentially hurt themselves — and their employer’s bottom line. As more tablets and phones enter the workplace, he said business owners need to look at the bigger picture.  

“And if they’ve had one claim, you know, that cost them $7,000, maybe that’ll perk them up a little bit to say, you know, what we had that and then we had four other near-misses, so maybe we need to do something,” he said.

He suggests companies consider creating policies about how employees use mobile devices during certain tasks and in specific locations. For example, a manufacturing or construction site with a lot of machines and fall hazards. “This would be an area where we shouldn’t be able to see people walking around on an iPad or a phone, but it could be different in the office environment,” Hullinger said.

A study last year by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found that 78 percent of respondents believe distracted walking is a “serious issue” with the overwhelming majority blaming other people.