According to a recent blog post by the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, David Michaels, OSHA will begin to target texting while driving to crack down on employee injuries and death.

In 2009, distracted driving accounted for more than 5,400 traffic fatalities, or 16 percent of traffic fatalities. In terms of workplace fatalities motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause each year.

To battle this potent workplace hazard OSHA has partnered with the Federal Department of Transpiration (DOT) to create a campaign against distracted driving.

According to Michaels OSHA is first targeting texting while driving because it takes your cognitive focus, eyes and hands away from the work of driving.

A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study backs the dangers of driving while texting. The study found drivers’ eyes were off the road for 4.6 out of every 6 seconds while texting. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field while wearing a blindfold.

“We want to send a clear message to managers, supervisors and workers that their company must neither require nor condone sending or reading text or e-mail messages while driving,” Michaels said.

The government occupational safety department is encouraging employers to enact policies prohibiting texting, establish times when employees can text and train employees on the dangers of texting and driving.

OSHA’s focus on the dangers of texting while driving come on the heels of  President Obama instituting a Federal Government-wide ban on the use of text messaging while driving on official business.

In addition to the mandate put in place by Obama 34 states and the District of Columbia have texting while driving bans in place.

According to Michaels OSHA will find companies in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act if, by policy or practice, they require texting while driving, or create incentives that encourage or condone it, or they structure work so that texting is a practical necessity for workers to carry out their job.

“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, “Michaels said.

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