Following an executive order on the issue by President Obama, which covered federal employees and their driving, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is launching its own “initiative” on distracted driving — generally, texting while driving — to cover all employers.

The agency’s District Driving Initiative states:

OSHA will first focus on texting while driving.  Employers should prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages workers to text while driving.  Texting while driving greatly increases the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash. Prohibiting texting while driving is the subject of the Executive Order (PDF) signed by President Obama last year for federal employees, and the subject of rulemaking by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

OSHA is also launching a multi-pronged initiative that will include the following:

  • An education campaign to employers, launched during Drive Safely Work Week, calling on employers to prevent occupationally related distracted driving—with a special focus on prohibiting texting while driving;
  • A website which carries a video message and an open letter to employers from Assistant Secretary Michaels….We will showcase model employer policies and team up with employer and labor associations to communicate our message;
  • We will forge alliances with the National Safety Council and other key organizations to help us reach out to employers, especially small employers, to combat distracted driving and prohibit texting while driving;
  • We will place a special emphasis on reaching young workers—working with other Labor Department agencies, as well as our alliance partners and stakeholders; and
  • When OSHA receives a credible complaint that an employer requires texting while driving or who organizes work so that texting is a practical necessity, we will investigate and where necessary issue citations and penalties to end this practice.