Employees who use smart-phones on the job are distracted from the task at hand. Also, their vision and/or hearing may be impaired while using the electronic device – resulting in an inability to perceive warnings and identify potential hazards.
For example, while walking in a warehouse last year I was almost struck by a fork truck operator who was texting while driving. Also, I have seen operators of giant metal working machines tape their phones to the operating console of their machines so they could text and browse the Internet while “appearing” to be operating their machine.
I see no “safety” problem with employees who work in offices (and other low hazard jobs) using smart-phones while on the job. However, I feel strongly that smart-phones should be banned from the factory floor in those industries that either have significant safety hazards or any type of mobile equipment (e.g. fork trucks, cranes, etc.).
In the USA, OSHA should study this problem, review the accident data, and develop a standard on the use of smart-phones in the workplace.
For more information and a study of iPhone hazards click here