Scene of New York City with construction cranes

Should Crane Operators Use Cell Phones on Construction Sites?

It’s a topic that isn’t talked about that much.

While we hear a lot about the dangers of using cell phones while driving cars and trucks, there isn’t a similar conversation happening about the use of cell phones on construction sites. That may be because fewer people regularly operate a crane or other piece of large construction equipment compared to the number of people who drive cars and trucks. However, for those who do operate cranes, and for those who work near them on construction sites, cell phone use while operating construction equipment is an important conversation to have.

OSHA Says Don’t Do it

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prohibits the use of cell phones by crane and derrick operators except in limited circumstances. Specifically, the OSHA regulation states:

The operator must not engage in any practice or activity that diverts his/her attention while actually engaged in operating the equipment, such as the use of cellular phones (other than when used for signal communications).

Further regulation specifies that if a cell phone is being used by a crane or derrick operator for signal communications, it must be a hands-free system.

Not using a cell phone while operating a crane is federal regulation, and it is also good policy. As a crane operator, how would you feel if you were momentarily distracted and your actions resulted in someone being seriously hurt or killed? As an employer, do you want this potential liability on your job site? As a construction worker, are you willing to accept this risk?

Unfortunately, Accidents Happen

There are still job sites were cell phone use by crane operators is commonplace and where accidents happen. During this National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, let’s make sure that our awareness efforts go beyond the highway and on to our construction sites. Start a conversation with your employer or share this article with your friends in the industry. Together, let’s work to prevent serious crane accidents in the future and let’s support those who have already been hurt by helping them get the fair recoveries that they deserve.

Timothy F. Schweitzer
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Personal injury lawyer specializing in maritime, construction and railroad injury claims.
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