The danger of distracted walking

Injuries from “distracted walking” have more than doubled since 2004, and surveys have shown that 60 percent of pedestrians are distracted by other activities while walking as well, according to a 2015 report by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons .

The study also shows that distracted walking is resulting in people falling down stairs, tripping over curbs, and stepping into traffic, causing cuts, bruises, sprains, and fractures. Walking while distracted can also cause you to miss potential hazards like ice, snow or a change in the walking surface, putting you at risk for a fall.

To avoid distracted walking accidents at your workplace, encourage employees:

  • NOT to use cell phones, tablets or other devices while walking
  • NOT to read documents while walking
  • NOT to carry more than they can handle safely
  • To take it slow when they see snow
  • To stay focused on their path and their end goal
  • To wear proper footwear

Encourage your employees to watch each other’s backs. When employees see coworkers being distracted by cell phones, stress or other factors, encourage them to help each other get back on track and focused. Showing you care is often a very effective safety measure.

There are many things supervisors can do to promote safety in the workplace and awareness among employees. Start by being a good example and practicing what you preach. Avoiding distractions yourself will go a long way. Hang SFM's Don't be distracted posters as reminders, and check out SFM's other free downloadable safety resources.

Don't miss your moment

We also have a series of short videos demonstrating what people can miss going on around them when distracted.


This post was originally published on January 24, 2014, and updated on June 30, 2017.

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