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Phones and mobiles

Desktop phones, once common, are increasingly being replaced by mobile and electronic communications. Mobile phone usage brings its own set of risks, including distraction, which compromises situational awareness.

Although some people are concerned about exposure to radiation from mobile and bluetooth devices, there is no conclusive research to either support or deny the case.

Tips

  • Limit texting.
  • Remain aware of your surroundings.

Potential harm

  • Overuse injury
  • Hit by an object
  • Musculoskeletal disorders

Identified hazards and controls

Neck pain and muscular disorder

Cause

  • ’Necking the phone’, which is holding the phone between the ear and the shoulder during conversations to keep hands free.
  • Bending the neck to see and use the mobile phone.

What workers can do

  • If you need to write while talking on the phone on a regular basis, you should ask your employer about getting a headset.
  • Pay attention to your posture when using your mobile phone. Try to hold your mobile device at eye level so you maintain a neutral position of the neck, as long as this doesn’t cause your arms to ache.
    Your head weighs up to 5 kilograms so if you bend your neck forward to look down at the screen of the mobile phone you are placing a strain on your neck muscles to hold that weight. It is only a matter of time until you notice soreness in your neck muscles.

What employers can do

  • Provide headsets to workers who are frequently on the phone or need to carry out writing or keyboarding functions at the same time.

Overuse injury

Cause

  • Repeatedly holding the phone for lengthy conversation.
  • Using the thumbs to type messages on phones and scrolling through screens of information.

What workers can do

  • Ask your manager about getting a headset if you use the desk phone frequently or need to write things down while speaking on the phone.
  • Limit mobile phone use especially if texting or reading from the device.
  • Reduce texting.
  • Use both hands or give your dominant hand a rest by using your other hand.
  • Try using other fingers, as you would on a keyboard, or use a stylus, which is a small pen-shaped instrument whose tip position on a computer monitor can be detected and used to draw or make selections by tapping.
  • Don’t press hard.
  • Stop using the device, take a break for an hour or so, or switch it off.
  • Put the phone on a desk instead of holding it in the palm of your hand.
  • Avoid writing emails on your mobile device.

What employers can do

  • Provide headsets to phone users who are frequently on the phone or need to carry out writing or keyboarding functions at the same time.
  • Discourage the use of mobile phones to email people for work purposes.
  • If a mobile phone is a requirement as a tool for the job, advise users to use it as a phone and talk to people instead of texting.

Other injury from trips or hitting other objects

Cause

  • Lack of situational awareness.

What workers can do

  • Avoid texting while walking, as you may walk into someone else, other obstacles, or enter the street when it is not safe.
  • Do not use a mobile phone while driving a car. It is illegal. Pull over in a safe location if you must use your phone.

What employers can do

  • Implement policies banning mobile phone use while driving work vehicles.
  • Encourage workers to use their phone during breaks in driving only.
Page last reviewed: 03 May 2021

Comcare (Office Safety tool)
GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 | www.comcare.gov.au

Date printed 29 Jun 2022

https://www.comcare.gov.au/office-safety-tool/spaces/work-areas/phones-mobiles