Screen Education’s Smartphone Distraction & Workplace Safety Survey Finds US Employees Distracted 2.5 Hours Each Workday By Digital Content Unrelated To Their Jobs

CINCINNATI, Aug. 31, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — In Screen Education’s Digital Distraction & Workplace Safety survey respondents estimated that the average employee at their workplace spends 2.5 hours each workday accessing digital content that is unrelated to their job.

In addition to killing productivity, this degree of distraction causes accidents — 14% of respondents said at least one accident had occurred at their workplace because an employee was distracted by their smartphone.  These accidents had serious consequences:

  • 59% caused property damage
  • 50% caused injury or death

Among respondents who work in an industrial setting, an even greater percentage — 26% — reported accidents had occurred in their workplace because someone was distracted by their smartphone. And these accidents were more consequential:

  • 75% caused property damage
  • 58% caused injury or death

Examples of accidents caused by smartphone-distracted employees include the following:

  • “(Someone) was on their phone and the elevator door (closed)…their jacket got stuck…which made that person’s collar choke them and leave a red mark.”
  • “Someone was distracted by (their) phone when their arm was crushed by a press.”
  • “A patient fell because someone was listening to music and didn’t hear the alarm.”
  • “We had one employee in a company car texting and driving…(he) rolled the car off a cliff.”

The survey — a collaboration between Screen Education, EMI Research Solutions, and Stark Statistical Consulting — was conducted in the spring of 2020, involved 1,019 US employees, and had a margin of error of + or – 3%.

According to Michael Mercier, President of Screen Education, “What’s astonishing is that 47% of respondents said their employer actually had a policy that restricted smartphone use at work.  So we’re seeing these problems despite the existence of smartphone restrictions.  This indicates that policy compliance and enforcement are a significant challenge.”  Mercier continued, “Employers can’t continue to risk having their employees maimed or killed, or to incur enormous property damage costs and liabilities, and increased insurance rates. We must aggressively tackle this problem.”

Some employees actually want assistance from their employer in addressing their smartphone distraction; 19% of all respondents, and 27% of respondents who work in an industrial setting, said they wish their employer would assist them in reducing the amount of time they spend using non-work digital content during the workday.

For many employees, working from home due to COVID is actually exacerbating digital distraction during the workday:

  • 52% said they were working from home more than usual due to COVID
  • Of that group, 54% said they were communicating with friends and family during work hours more than they usually do via social media, text, email and phone calls

To learn more about the Smartphone Distraction & Workplace Safety survey, and to review additional findings, visit

To download Screen Education’s 2019 Digital Distraction In The Workplace survey visit

Media Contacts:
Michael Mercier
Screen Education


Screen Education tackles issues at the intersection of information technology and human wellness through research, seminars, and consulting.  Visit

EMI Research Solutions is a leading online sample provider to the market research industry.  They leverage more than 150 partners in over 95 countries to provide the B2B or consumer sample that best fits their client’s project.  To learn more about EMI, visit

Stark Statistical Consulting provides statistical support for researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs.  Visit

SOURCE Screen Education

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