SAFETY FORWARD: PHONES DOWN, EYES UP

New Penn Pulse

Who hasn’t chuckled watching videos of people tripping over curbs, walking straight into poles, or falling head first in fountains because they’re paying more attention to their phones than where they’re going? What’s not funny is when people are distracted by their phones at work, driving, or in safety-critical environments, which can easily result in serious, even life-threatening, accidents.

How many times a day does a call, text or email chirp from your phone interrupt you in the middle of doing another task? Checking your phone may seem like a minor distraction, but it can lead to major consequences.

A new study conducted by Michigan State University that was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and funded by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research confirms it. In safety-critical situations, even short distractions make mistakes far more likely.

The study’s researchers find that interruptions lasting a mere 2.8 seconds DOUBLE the likelihood that an employee will make an error. If the distraction lasts 4.4 seconds, the chances for error TRIPLE. Error rates increase whenever you shift your attention from one task to another task.
For those of us working in offices, an error could be hitting our leg against a corner, which hurts! Or transposing a number on a shipment, which could hinder a customer’s delivery. For those of us on the docks, in terminals, or in a truck, an error could mean.

New Penn Pulse

Subscribe today to receive New Penn Pulse every month for up-to-date industry information and news.