NWRA sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asking for clarification on federal agencies’ jurisdiction over mobile phones as it relates to safety. NWRA has previously contacted the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to address safety concerns regarding the dangers that mobile phones and distracted driving present to highway users in general and waste and recycling collection workers specifically.

“The waste and recycling industry is the sixth deadliest profession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and this is due in part to our frontline workers being killed by mobile phone users who are engaging in distracted driving,” stated NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith. “NWRA is seeking to ascertain which federal agency would be in the position to regulate mobile phones as an inherently addictive product that causes distractions leading to injury and death.”

A November 2014 GAO report entitled “CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Coordination and Increase Efficiencies and Effectiveness” indicates that mobile phones/wireless devices are under the jurisdiction of the CPSC, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While the FCC and the FDA cover the product as it relates to separate aspects of radio frequency energy issues, the report specifically states that “FCC does not directly regulate the safety of mobile phones and wireless devices.”

The CPSC is referenced as the agency that “[r]egulates hazards associated with the chargers for these devices, such as to ensure that they do not catch fire.” Beyond this, there is no indication in the report as to which agency has jurisdiction over the safety of mobile phones, but the reference to chargers would seem that the physical product itself would come under the auspices of the CPSC.

“NWRA asks that you clarify this jurisdictional issue so our industry can work with the correct agency or agencies to promulgate appropriate regulation of mobile phones and save the lives of our frontline workers, many of whom are people of color. This is a national problem that requires a federal response,” Smith wrote.

For more information, visit www.wasterecycling.org.

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