PHMSA warns against personal electronic device distractions

Following the Department of Transportation's lead in the effort to end cell phone distraction while driving, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on Aug. 3 issued a similar warning to employers.

PHMSA published two notices (.pdf file) in the Federal Register advising owners and operators of natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline facilities of the distraction risks associated with the use of personal electronic devices such as cell phones. PHMSA said PEDs, especially when used for personal business, may distract pipeline employees who are performing operations and maintenance activities. The agency said it is not discouraging use of PEDs as part of normal business operations, but warned that distractions from PEDs may hinder prompt recognition and reaction to abnormal operating conditions and emergencies.

PHSMA recommends operators:

  • Integrate appropriate controls into their written procedures for operations and maintenance regarding the use of PEDs by individuals performing pipeline tasks that may affect pipeline operation or integrity
  • Provide guidance and training for all personnel on the risks associated with the use of PEDs while driving and while performing activities on behalf of the company if that use poses a risk to safety

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