OH&S – Mobile phones in the workplace


Mobile phones can jeopardise security and productivity

Employers should not only consider productivity problems, but also security, when controlling mobile phone use at work, says Labour Solutions Australia Managing Director, Andrew Northcott.

Northcott says there are just two facets of mobile phone use that have security implications.

One may be the possibility of radiofrequency or electromagnetic noise, which could interfere with electric equipment and apparently cause flammable materials to ignite.

“It’s a situation where in fact the utilization of the cell phone – the apparatus itself – can create a security event.” In such circumstances, an outright prohibition within the important place is warranted, he says.

Another problem, which is much more common, is the fact they could become a major distraction.

For example, “it’s trivial for sales consultants traveling to get accidents while on the mobile phones”, Robinson says.

“If someone’s diverted on a cell phone, they’re definitely not going to be paying the complete level of consideration to the action.

In environments the distraction issue is observed as a productivity issue more than a security danger, he adds.

“In the exact same manner where people spend an excessive amount of time gossiping across the water cooler, spending an excessive amount of time playing apps in your iPhone may cause distraction and lost productivity.

Consequently, offenders ought to be disciplined and counselled regardless of whether their actions present a security hazard, he says.

In many cases, an outright ban won’t be warranted by the problem of distraction on mobile phone use. However, there are several environments where “all distractions must be absolutely removed”, Robinson says.

Outright bans are scarcely the answer

Even if mobile phone use doesn’t present a serious security danger, the significance of getting a policy to supply clear guidance is a “no brainer”.

“In the exact same manner that businesses have e-mail and web policies, it’s significant that businesses also think about using the mobile phones,” Northcott says.

Policies should characterize the kind of information which could be retrieved on phones, summarize limits regarding where and when they could be utilized, and contain guidelines around proper means to speak with customers and colleagues, he says.

“In that respect businesses have a good number of vested interest in ensuring they elevate these concerns.”

In workplaces where particular areas are thought to be highrisk due to traffic or machines, signage may also help in deterring mobile phone use, he adds.

There are risks in going too far, just since there are risks in failing to deal with problem.

“In the present skills environment, it’s hard for employers to discover highly skilled workers.

After all, mobile phones can be “an utterly brilliant communication tool” and a “enormous” security tool. Employers can have thorough discussions with supervisors about unfolding safety dangers and guide workers of the safety event almost instantaneously.

An unnecessary prohibition could do an organisation more damage than good, he says.



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Labour Solutions Australia Pty Ltd specialises in temporary, permanent and outsourced workforce solutions with a strong focus on Food Processing, Civil and Building Construction, Mining and Engineering, Transport and Logistics, Manufacturing and Agribusiness staffing needs.

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