FedEx's Limits on Phones in Spotlight After Indianapolis Shooting
By Thomas Gryta
When a gunman began shooting at a FedEx Corp. facility in
Indianapolis late Thursday night, many workers didn't have access
to their mobile phones to call for help or loved ones.
FedEx policy prohibits most workers from having cellphones
inside the company's sprawling sortation centers, citing safety
reasons. Some workers leave them in their vehicles or lockers
before starting their shifts. The situation prompted some people on
social media to criticize the delivery company for its policy.
Indianapolis police officials said the cellphone policy didn't
appear to delay the reporting of the deadly shooting to
authorities. Police said many FedEx workers didn't have their
phones after the late-night incident, which delayed their ability
to reach family members.
"That was certainly frustrating for those employees as well as
their families," Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Deputy Chief
Craig McCartt said at a news conference Friday.
A FedEx spokeswoman said only some workers are authorized to
have access to their phones in certain areas of FedEx Ground
facilities, in order to "minimize potential distractions around
package sortation equipment and dock operations."
Distractions and safety are important issues in massive sorting
facilities that bustle around the clock and are busier than ever
during the pandemic, executives say. The operations can move
millions of packages through networks of conveyor belts, scanning
machines, and other equipment to quickly get packages on trucks to
their next destination.
Last year, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that some
companies can prohibit employees from holding or using their
cellphones on the manufacturing floor or at workstations.
In a case involving a beverage company, the NLRB said the
company's legitimate business interests outweighed "the relatively
slight risk" that the policy would interfere with an employee's
"Because of the unique distractions cellphones pose, a blanket
prohibition on usage in work areas is a reasonable restriction in
order to reduce the risks of product contamination, slowed response
times, and on-the-job accidents," the board's decision said.
FedEx isn't the only delivery giant with limits on cellphone use
by employees inside its facilities. Rival United Parcel Service
Inc. said its "policy allows employees to enter UPS facilities with
cellphones in some instances." UPS also said its facilities have
multiple security measures and phones available for staff use.
The U.S. Postal Service doesn't have a policy banning possession
of cellphones in its facilities but it does restrict workers from
using them for personal matters or taking pictures while on the
job, a spokesman said.
FedEx said about 875 people work at the Indianapolis facility
and roughly 100 were there at the time of the shooting. The
incident occurred around 11 p.m. when there is typically a shift
change and people doing the midnight sort arrive for work.
Write to Thomas Gryta at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 16, 2021 17:15 ET (21:15 GMT)
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