Talk about Safety: Save a Life!

[tweetmeme]”Toolbox Talks”, “Toolbox Topics” , “Safety Chats” , “Tailgate Meetings” or whatever your organization calls them is a brief safety talk or meeting about a specific subject at the beginning of the shift. These talks can be done in a variety of ways but are typically a brief (5-10 minute) interactive discussion meeting on something safety related. Toolbox Topics are used to cover a variety of short safety training subjects and to remind employees each day before they go to work, the importance of being safe.  They can also help foster and grow a culture of safety within your company.

However sometimes the same safety meetings that occur time after time lose some of the spark as an effective training tool.  We’ve all been to safety meetings that missed the mark—topics were not pertinent, sessions ran too long, disorganization ruled.  We have all experienced times when the safety training was forgotten as soon as the meeting was over.

It’s too important to just give up though.  Employee’s lives and fortune depend upon their knowledge and attitude about job site safety.  One seemingly silly accident can quickly ruin a company financially as well, and for the remaining employees it can certainly alter their quality of life.  It is in every worker’s interest to protect their savings and earning potential as well as their life and health.

Tips for Effective Safety Meetings

  • Carefully time the length of meetings.  If you hold meetings once a month, keep the length at 30-45 minutes; once a week, keep it 30 minutes or less with 20 minutes as the ideal length. The longest meetings should run no more than an hour.
  • For construction work, have short, informal tailgate safety meetings of 5, 10, or 15 minutes before work once a week, with a longer talk at least once a month or at the start of each phase of the construction project.
  • Schedule topics over a long period—a year is most common.  The schedule provides reasonable deadlines for the trainer and helps others plan their working days.
  • Select meeting topics on the basis of 1) a review of the most recent types of accidents and near-accidents, 2) related corporate safety goals, 3) any particular subjects that need to be covered from a legal or insurance standpoint, and 4) your basic list of safety topics to be reviewed.
  • Have the senior management person at the location open the meeting and sit in—it’s a sign of commitment.

Without constant reminders about safety, we tend to forget, get sloppy, take risks, and have accidents.  Safety meetings are a great refresher and can keep you abreast of changes in the regulations, safety procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE) and job assignments, and responsibilities.  Refresher training is also sometimes required by OSHA and having a pre-planned weekly meeting is a convenient way to go over required training.

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The characteristics of a Safety Culture

[tweetmeme]What does an organizational culture that gives safety a priority look like?  There are several identified characteristics that go to make up a safety culture. Included in these are:

  • An informed culture*: one in which those who manage and operate the system have current knowledge about the human, technical, organisational and environmental factors that determine the safety of the system as a whole,
  • A reporting culture*: a culture in which people are willing to report errors and near misses,
  • A just culture*: a culture of ‘no blame’ where an atmosphere of trust is present and people are encouraged or even rewarded for providing essential safety-related information- but where there is also a clear line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior,
  • A flexible culture*: which can take different forms but is characterized as shifting from the conventional hierarchical mode to a flatter professional structure.
  • A learning culture*: the willingness and the competence to draw the right conclusions from its safety information system, and the will to implement major reforms when the need is indicated.

*Reason, J.T. (1997) Managing the Risks of Organisational Accidents

Taken together these five characteristics help form a culture of trust and of informed collective.  Of course trust is needed, especially in the face of assaults upon the beliefs that people are trying their best,  such as accidents and near-miss incidents which all too easily look like failures of individuals.  Informed people know what is really happening, lessening the chance of mistakes.  These and other critical elements help us to identify what beliefs are associated with a safety culture and will ultimately help reduce the frequency of accidents/incidents.

GHS is finally here…almost!

[tweetmeme]OSHA’s recently published the final rule to adopt the Global Harmonization System (GHS), which according to them will not change the framework and scope of the current Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) but will help ensure improved consistency in the classification and labeling of all workplace chemicals. GHS provides a single set of harmonized criteria for classifying chemicals according to their health and physical hazards and specifies hazard communication elements for labeling and safety data sheets. Under GHS, labels would include signal words, pictograms, and hazard and precautionary statements and safety data sheets would have standardized format. This system was agreed on at an international level by governments, industry, and labor, and adopted by the UN in 2002 with a goal of 2008 for implementation.

According to OSHA this change will affect over 40 million workers in about 5 million workplaces. The change to GHS was a long time in coming and necessary as the global chemical business is more than a $1.7 trillion per year enterprise. In the U.S., chemicals are more than a $450 billion business and exports are greater than $80 billion per year. Existing laws and regulations are currently different enough to require multiple labels for the same product both within the U.S. and in international trade and requiring multiple safety data sheets for the same product in international trade. Several U.S. regulatory agencies and various countries also have different requirements for hazard definitions as well as for information to be included on labels or material safety data sheets. GHS effectively establishes agreed hazard classification and communication provisions with explanatory information on how to apply the system worldwide.

It is important to remember that GHS itself is not a regulation or a standard. The GHS Document (referred to as “The Purple Book”) is simply a mechanism to meet the basic requirements of any hazard communication system, which is to decide if the chemical product produced and/or supplied is hazardous and to prepare a label and/or Safety Data Sheet as appropriate. OSHA’s HCS will incorporate the needed elements of GHS to make international trade and commerce easier.

Of course with change comes the need for training. Employers will need to have trained their employees regarding the new label elements and safety data sheets format by December 1, 2013 with full implementation of GHS taking place December 1, 2015.

OSHA has published a side-by-side comparison of the current HCS with the new GHS elements incorporated which can be found here.  If you need more information or training contact me,  I’d be happy to help you find the needed resources.

4-Year GHS Compliance Transition Period

May 25, 2012 to November 30, 2013
All employers that use, handle, store chemicals
Train employees how to read and interpret chemical labels and (material) safety data sheets in compliance with either:

  • The pre-GHS HazCom standard for labels and MSDSs; or
  • The revised HazCom standard with GHS for new-style labels and SDSs; or
  • Both old and new requirements at the same time
December 1, 2013
All employers that use, handle, store chemicals
Train employees about the new GHS-compliant chemical labels and SDSs.
June 1, 2015
Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors
Comply with all the requirements of the GHS rule, including classify chemical hazards and prepare new labels and SDSs. Distributors have until December 1, 2015 to comply with the shipping requirements for GHS-compliant labels.
December 1, 2015
Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors
All shipments of chemical containers must include the new GHS-compliant label (signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement).
June 1, 2016
All employers that use, handle, store chemicals
Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards.

Get By With A Little Help From A Friend: Safety Professionals & Trainers

[tweetmeme]Recently I had the great pleaure of getting to know more and more experienced safety professionals and trainers using LinkedIn Groups.    Some of the more interesting subjects within our industry are being discussed right now by a wide range of professionals whose insight and knowledge has helped me immensely in my career.   I have listed below a couple of the more interesting blog posts that I have discovered using LinkedIn.   

The Most Overlooked Paragraph in the OSHA Standards

Several months ago I was reading posts made by members in one of the many social networking groups I belong to that are dedicated to occupational health and safety matters. The original discussion question inquired about the regulations that should be applied to workers who were not wearing fall protection harnesses while spreading metal decking…(read more).

Don’t Overlook OSHA’s “Unscheduled” Refresher Training Requirements

When I conduct mock-OSHA inspections for companies, we spend a lot of time focusing on their employee safety training efforts. What we typically find is that most employers provide a new employee safety orientation to get the newbies up to speed on the mandatory OSHA topics…(read more).

Beware – Where Behavior Based Safety Programs and OSHA Standards Collide

Occasionally a company that has implemented an OSHA compliance program asks me for recommendations to help them “go to the next level” and “exceed OSHA compliance”. Often times I recommend they look into implementing a behavior based safety (BBS) program to compliment what they have in place. Many of you in the safety profession already know what a behavior based safety program is…(read more)

Career Success Means Being Fully Engaged!

[tweetmeme]I have spent a lot of time and energy developing this blog.  My aim is now as it has always been, to deliver a voice of encouragement and to be resource for folks looking to help keep themselves or others safe in the workplace.  I have often utilized humor or tried to highlight some slightly off-center topics to engage my readers.  But just the other day I was at lunch with a friend and we were talking about our careers, family, NCAA tournament…the usual.  I guess at some moment I must have seemed down, because my friend asked me if I was happy?  I instinctively said “sure”.  He then asked me, “Why do you do it?”  “Why do you invest so much energy into your work….I mean what is your motivation?  What are you passionate about?”

I thought for sure my friend was having a mid-life crisis or worse he thought I might be having a crisis.  I left that lunch not really answering the question, at least not to myself.  Oh, I replied the usual answers we all give, family and relationships, etc.  But later after more reflection I came to the unexpected conclusion that it wasn’t just my family and personal relationships that drive me, but that I absolutely love what I do and I hold a strong conviction that environmental, health and safety is one of the most important, challenging, and respectable professions available.  I started to write down some of the challenges that I haven’t been able to fully solve or overcome within EHS.   Just that simple act of writing them down in front of me:  there they were staring at me still fighting with me.  Well that got my competitive juices flowing and I immediately wanted more than ever to meet these challenges and solve them once and for all.

As a EHS professional, or any professional, if you want to succeed in something you are not fully engaged in you are doomed to fail.  I realized that my friend must have sensed that I haven’t been as fully engaged as I usually am and he decided to challenge me on it.   So in turn I am challenging you!  What are you passionate about?  If you want to be happy you need to make sure you are getting something from your career choice beyond the paycheck.  Whether its personal growth, working to a common purpose, or being part of a larger process you need to take time to celebrate the successes you have and repeat them when you can.  Being engaged in your work means having fun and being enthusiastic about it.  It is not acceptable to simply be satisfied with your job if you really want to succeed and be happy.

Whenever possible, do something that really charges you up.  If having face-to-face time with the front line employees leave you with a feeling of accomplishment, make time in your schedule to do more of that.  If training employees on hazard awareness helps you feel like you are making a difference, then try to do more of that.  Don’t mistake this with only doing the things that are easy or fun, but definitely make time for them.

Quick Tips for Happy Engaged People

  • Remember the most important skill you will ever have or learn will come from a true desire to help others.
  • Find intrinsic enjoyment in your work;  if you can’t, maybe you need a change.
  • Invest the time and resources to stay current in your industry.
  • Your relationships with management and labor have the biggest impact on your success.  Nurture those relationships!
  • Top performance requires time to rest.  Don’t beat yourself up for downtime.  Rest and relaxation helps recharge your batteries.
  • Show genuine gratitude to your support team.  This includes anyone who has a hand in your success.

Easy Steps for a Successful Accident Investigation

[tweetmeme]Some companies use the term “Circle of Prevention” when following the Plan, Do, Check, Act model for their safety and heath programs. As safety is really a continuing process of improvement, the OSHA standards should only be the beginning. They may help identify many of the general hazards of general business and construction, but you and your employees should be working together to identify on-the-job hazards unique to your industry and your work areas, using formal and informal safety audits and hazard analysis.

Whether through reading OSHA standards, consulting other guidelines or making your own observations, the circumstances of the hazards in your organization must be analyzed, the problem diagnosed, a plan of action developed, and then effective corrective action taken to minimize the risks.

But for whatever reason, somehow, even with your excellent safety and health program in place, an accident happens. Now what? After all the initial work is done including securing the scene and caring for the employee, you need to conduct a thorough accident investigation in order to help prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.

How your investigation is conducted will determine in large part how useful it will be.

When to start an Accident Investigation

You must act quickly as memories get fuzzy and initial perceptions may change, other employees start talking and with that the ‘water cooler’ effect takes over. Perceptions and eye witness accounts start being influenced by the storytelling. However, even though you want to get started right away do not get locked into a deadline for completing the investigation. If you are too rushed you may reach the wrong conclusions about the root causes.

Who should conduct the Investigation?

Most minor incidents and accidents can be investigated by the supervisor who is often the person most familiar with the operation. The supervisor is also in position to implement remedial measures as necessary. More serious and complicated incidents and accidents require more expertise. A team approach that includes the supervisor, safety professional or risk manager, management representative, perhaps a safety committee member and even a human resources representative will allow for a wide range of issues to be addressed. In addition, your insurance company will certainly be involved with any serious accident.

The purpose of the Investigation is Prevention not Blame.

It is crucial to the success an accident investigation to make sure you are getting full cooperation from witnesses or those involved in the accident. Remember, the people you are interviewing may be afraid that you will blame them and react defensively or even embellish the facts if they feel threatened. It is important to make sure they understand that you are simply trying to find the factors that led to the accident so future accidents can be avoided.

Review the facts.

  • Description of the accident
  • Witness Discrepancies
  • Condition of any equipment involved
  • Environmental factors
  • Personnel issues with injured employee(s) (training, competence, attitude, past performance, alcohol/drug use, etc.)
  • Routine or non-routine task

Consider all the possibilities

  • The immediate cause?
  • Contributing factors?
  • Underlying root causes?
  • Unpredictable factors?
  • Alternative theories?

Accident Investigation Reporting

Your report should summarize the facts of the accident and events leading up to it. Include any injuries suffered from the accident, the total of all property damages and any other costs of the accident, and if “human error” was involved, this should be included in the report; however, disciplinary recommendations should not be included as part of the investigation. It is however crucial to include information about the immediate and underlying causes and definitely report any dissenting opinions if the investigation was a team effort.

Management can’t do accident prevention in a vacuum, employees need to be involved. Without their understanding and cooperation, nothing management does will really work in the long run to stop the accidents and injuries.

Near Miss Safety Incidents Are Learning Opportunities

[tweetmeme]Have you ever been involved in an accident investigation where the contributing factors of the accident happened before but weren’t reported?   After one such serious accident involving work on live switchboards that resulted in explosions that caused extensive damage and one forced the closure of an elementary school for a day, the following was quoted in an ABC news report.

“They were very, very lucky indeed. There was a similar incident on the mainland where a person received severe burns to his face working on a live switchboard and that person has been in hospital for months and months and will probably never work again.”

If you were asked to define what a near miss is what would you say? A close call where no one was injured but may have resulted in property damage?

A near miss safety incident is undoubtedly a “do over” without an injury.   However near misses must still be reported and the unsafe situation corrected in a timely manner and they should be used as a learning experience.

Here are some real life examples of near misses.

  • A forklift tipped over while carrying a load that shifted on an uneven work surface.  The driver escaped without a scratch by staying buckled inside the cage.
  • A mechanic working under railcar had just stepped away when the car was struck by another railcar being positioned on an active work track.
  • A forklift ran over a welder’s foot which was protected by his steel toed boots when the driver backed up and did not see him walking behind his lift.

Reporting of a near miss and the subsequent investigation will more than likely reveal unsafe acts and conditions that will need to be corrected.  Near miss incidents that are severe in nature should receive as much attention and corrective action as an actual accident / injury.  But it is difficult to get everyone to report near misses.

Reasons Why Our People are Reluctant to Report

  • There is no system for near miss reporting.
  • Workers believe that their supervisors will hold such near miss reporting against them.
  • Generates additional work,  i.e., paperwork, subsequent investigation, etc.
  • Supervisors and/or workers have not been instructed how to report near misses.
  • Once reported nothing is done to address or correct what caused the near miss.
  • Upon reporting there is no follow-up
  • Near misses are so frequent that they become common place and part of the everyday work life
  • Employees may fear a possible job loss or be penalized if they are found to be a contributing factor of the near miss incident.
  • Workers have the mindset that being safe in the workplace also includes being lucky.

It is important to report and follow up on near misses because you can’t predict severity in accidents.  While zero accidents is a possibility, zero risk isn’t.  It is impossible to completely engineer out all of the risks so you must continue to work to identify those hidden risks and develop ways to minimize the exposure, and reporting and investigating near misses is a critical part of this process.

It is also important to look beyond employee behavior/actions, if this is found as a “root cause” or contributing factor.   Many people will stop there because they can’t answer the “Why Question”.  In reality though if one person feels encouraged to take a risk, usually others are as well.   It is important to look at your organization’s cultural aspects during an investigation/analysis.   When the culture supports the measurement and understands why they need to investigate near misses, an in depth analysis can be a very positive thing.

Recruit Safety Champions to Reduce Workplace Accidents

[tweetmeme]During a particular busy work shift you see a heavy object fall off a ledge or shelf and thud to the floor a foot or so away from a coworker. Whew…no harm, no foul.  Right?  Consider this Seventy-five percent of all accidents are preceded by one or more near misses, according to the National Safety Council.

There is a serious real-life danger in near misses that don’t result in damage to persons or property, because of the tendency to think of them like a Hollywood horror movie; scary for a few moments, but with no real harm done.  This is a dangerous attitude though; if you don’t notice and correct whatever condition or behavior that caused the close call, it’s very likely that there will be further close calls, some minor accidents, and finally-with just the right combination of circumstances, there may be a very serious or fatal accident.

What is a near miss?

“Near misses” can be defined as minor accidents or close calls that have the potential for property loss or injury.  A near miss will prevent a task from being completed as planned.   Most accidents can be predicted by close calls.  These are accidents that almost happened or possibly did happen but simply didn’t result in an injury this time around.

What is an accident?

An accident is an unplanned, unexpected event that interferes with or interrupts normal activity and potentially leads to personal injury or dollar loss, including equipment damage.  Accidents have two things in common. They all have outcomes and they all have contributory factors that cause the accident.

There are numerous negative outcomes of accidents including injury and possible death, damage to equipment and property, litigation costs and possible citations, lost productivity, and morale issues. However from that, positive outcome from accidents can include an accident investigation which identifies key issues that can lead to prevention of recurrence, changes to existing safety paradigms which can lead to changes to policies and procedures, and changes to equipment design.

The seven deadly sins (workplace accidents):

  1. Falls to the same or lower level;
  2. Contact with chemicals, electricity, heat or cold;
  3. Caught in, on, or between;
  4. Bodily reaction from voluntary or involuntary motion;
  5. Struck against a stationary, moving, or protruding object or a sharp or jagged edge;
  6. Struck by a moving, flying, or falling object; and
  7. Rubbed or abraded by fiction, pressure, or vibration.

Obviously every close call or accident is a call for action.  Sometimes its cause can be easily fixed.  In other cases, the whole system may need a major revision. But near misses and accidents should never be ignored.  Make your employees “accident aware” by informing them of what the organization is doing to prevent accidents.

As working safely often means looking out for each other, it is no wonder that  employee involvement is the key to reducing accidents.  There are several ways to accomplish this, including providing opportunities to give voice to the needs and concerns of your frontline employees.  Consider recruiting employees from across multiple areas of your company to be safety champions, and design multiple communication strategies for them including using internal blogs, group email, safety newsletters, e-learning and classroom training, as well as encouraging the development of live forums or town hall meetings to further training efforts and to share success stories and shared challenges.

Ways to Reduce Accidents

  • Obtain top level management support for accident prevention
  • Perform a hazard analysis for each job
  • Review the use of hazardous chemicals
  • Study and evaluate the layout of workstations
  • Analyze your worker’s duties for ergonomic risks
  • Review your worker’s behavior and pay attention to their attitudes
  • Recruit your front line supervisors for safety initiatives
  • Complete regular safety checks of all equipment
  • Inspect your facility for layout and environmental hazards
  • Review and keep your worker training program current
  • Always enforce safety rules
  • Make the changes necessary to reduce hazards

As your workers and supervisors cooperate with these programs, stay alert for hazards, and follow reporting instructions, they will be able to avoid most accidents in the workplace.

Is Your Facility Ready for a Compliance Inspection in 2012?

[tweetmeme]It’s already 2012 and now is a great time to review your facility’s environmental, health & safety compliance standing.   You should be aware of your ability to withstand an inspection from OSHA or EPA this year.   Typically, an inspector will assess the effectiveness of your facility’s environmental and safety programs by asking EHS, operations, and maintenance staff to answer a series of general questions.   Once they start getting inconsistent, or a lot of  “I don’t know”  answers they know they have a ‘live on on the hook’!   It’s only a matter of time before they reel you in.   You need to stay ahead of the game.

Here’s how you can make the inspection of your facility go as smoothly as possible:

Tips for a Smooth Inspection

  • Cooperate – The most important advice to follow during an inspection is to cooperate with the inspector.   The inspector may equate noncooperation with regulatory noncompliance.

  • Accompany the inspector – The facility owner, operator, or workplace supervisor should accompany the inspector during the inspection to take notes on the inspector’s comments. When accompanying the inspector, pay particular attention to questions that the inspector asks you or employees about workplace health and safety or waste management practices.
  • Correct errors – It is also important, if possible or if requested by the inspector, to correct regulatory problems, such as a malfunctioning chemical-treatment-process machine or a minor spill, during the inspection.
  • Duplicate samples and records – Should the inspector take samples; you should take a samples the same time so that you have nearly identical samples.  Ask the inspector what test or analysis the sample will undergo and have the same test or analysis conducted independently on your sample for your own records.

Should the inspector request copies of corporate records, either make the copies then, or if the request requires a substantial amount of copying, agree to a schedule to provide them to the inspector.   Keep a copy of everything you provide to the inspector.   The inspector may also take pictures of relevant plant equipment or processes.   You should take the same pictures from the same angle.

Are you ready to answer these questions?

  • How are EHS regulatory requirements determined and communicated?
  • How is compliance monitored?
  • What is the effectiveness of the internal communication systems, particularly under spill or release scenarios? Accidents and Injuries?
  • What is the existence and completeness of detailed process flow charts and mass balances?
  • How is noncompliance communicated to management?  What is the follow up?
  • Is environmental and safety compliance a factor in job performance evaluations for front line Supervisors?  Employees?  How about Management?
  • What is the existence and scope of an environmental and safety training programs?
  • What are the existence, scope, and maturity of the facility’s EHS management systems?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  You don’t have to go through this alone!  There are a lot of valuable resources available to you on the web.   OSHA and EPA both have good resources on their websites; contact other professionals through social media such as LinkedIn Groups.  You can also contract with a professional consultant, or contact your state’s Department of Labor; many have assistance programs that can get you on the right track.   Most important though, talk to your senior management and get them to understand the importance of EHS, both from a regulatory compliance standpoint and more importantly from a good business perspective.  Be prepared to make 2012 a great year!

New Regulations Prohibit Cell Phone Use for Commercial Drivers: Effective January 3, 2012

[tweetmeme]The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) are amending the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to restrict the use of hand-held mobile telephones by drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) effective January 3, 2012.

The new regulations also implement disqualification sanctions for new drivers of CMVs who fail to comply with this Federal restriction and new driver disqualification sanctions for commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who have multiple convictions for violating a State or local law or ordinance on motor vehicle traffic control that restricts the use of hand-held mobile telephones. Additionally, motor carriers are prohibited from requiring or allowing drivers of CMVs to use hand-held mobile telephones.

According to the amendment using a hand-held mobile telephone may reduce a driver’s situational awareness, decision making, or performance; and it may result in a crash, near-crash, unintended lane departure by the driver, or other unsafe driving action. Indeed, research indicates that reaching for and dialing hand-held mobile telephones are sources of driver distraction that pose a specific safety risk. The odds of being involved in a safety-critical event are three times greater when the driver is reaching for an object than when the driver is not reaching for an object. The odds of being involved in a safety-critical event are six times greater while the driver is dialing a cell phone than when the driver is not dialing a cell phone. These increases in risk are primarily attributable to the driver’s eyes being off the forward roadway.

The use of cell phones while driving has come under greater scrutiny lately, and while no State has completely banned mobile telephone use, some States have gone further than this rule for certain categories of drivers. For example, 19 States and the District of Columbia prohibit the use of all mobile telephones while driving a school bus. Additionally, nine States and the District of Columbia have traffic laws prohibiting all motor vehicle drivers from using a hand-held mobile telephone while driving.

The agencies defined the use of a hand-held telephone as:

  1. Using at least one hand to hold a mobile telephone to conduct a voice communication;
  2. Dialing or answering a mobile telephone by pressing more than a single button, or
  3. Reaching for a mobile telephone in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt that is installed in accordance with 49 CFR 393.93 and adjusted in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.

Texting means manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device.

This action includes, but is not limited to, short message service, emailing, instant messaging, a command or request to access a World Wide Web page, pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication using a mobile telephone, or engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry, for present or future communication.

Texting does not include:

  • Inputting, selecting, or reading information on a global positioning system or navigation system; or
  • Pressing a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication using a mobile telephone; or
  • Using a device capable of performing multiple functions (e.g., fleet management systems, dispatching devices, smart phones, citizens band radios, music players, etc.) for a purpose that is not otherwise prohibited in this part.

What is considered driving?
According to FMCSA and PHMSA driving means operating a commercial motor vehicle on a highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays. Driving does not include operating a commercial motor vehicle when the driver has moved the vehicle to the side of, or off, a highway and has halted in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary.

Emergency exception. Using a hand-held mobile telephone is permissible by drivers of a CMV when necessary to communicate with law enforcement officials or other emergency services