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HRM Announces Safe Cellular Phone Use Policy
(Wednesday, November 20/2002)-- A new safety policy announced today prohibits employees of the Halifax Regional Municipality from using cellular phones while operating an HRM-owned or leased vehicle, or while using their own vehicle on HRM business.
Chief Administrative Officer George McLellan said the policy is a major step in promoting safer use of cellular telephones and other communication systems by HRM employees driving motor vehicles. It was developed by representatives of Occupational Health and Safety and several business units.
Mr. McLellan said the purpose of the new policy is to promote greater safety and to reduce the risk of motor vehicle incidents/accidents that may be caused by driver inattention or distraction, which could result in injury to employees and/or to the general public.
In addition, he said, the new policy should prevent loss or damage to HRM equipment or assets as a result of driver inattention or distraction.
Mr. McLellan said "This is the minimum standard to be followed by all HRM employees. If it is necessary for an HRM employee to use the cell phone in a vehicle, then he or she must stop the vehicle in a safe location before receiving or placing calls. We would hope that our employees would observe this same safety policy when using their own cellular phones, in their own vehicles, on their own time."
The CAO said the municipality is pleased to be playing a leading role in the promotion of safer use of cellular telephones by operators of motor vehicles.
Essentially, the new policy stipulates that HRM employees should not receive incoming calls or place outgoing calls on a cellular phone while driving HRM vehicles or in their own vehicle on HRM business. To respond to an incoming call or to place an outgoing call, employees are required to pull their vehicle safely to the side of the road before using the cellular phone.
In cases where a cellular phone is equipped with the Voice Mail option, incoming calls must be allowed to go into Voice Mail if the vehicle is moving or while in traffic.
Calls may then be checked/returned when the vehicle is stopped in a safe location or after the employee has reached his or her destination.
There are some exceptions
Cell phones equipped with a headset may be programmed to answer an incoming call automatically after the first or second ring, and to hang up automatically after the other party disconnects so that a driver does not have to use their hands to receive a call. Such conversation must be kept brief. Outgoing calls still necessitate the use of a driver's hands, and the HRM policy requires that the driver stop his/her vehicle in a safe location to place such a call.
What other rules apply to HRM employees when using cell phones?
Cellular telephones shall be turned off in locations where it is posted that they may cause interference with other electronic equipment (Health Care Facilities) or blasting zones (Danger Blasting Area: Turn Off Your Radio Transmitter). Cellular equipment may be used in emergency situations by employees in these areas once it has been determined that it is safe to do so.
Cellular telephones shall not be used in areas where an explosive/flammable atmosphere may be present, for example, when refueling vehicles, during inspections of propane or gasoline dispensing facilities, or in and around grain elevators.
Chief Administrative Officer
Corporate Communications Officer