Pokémon Go’s Pull Can Lead to Distractions, Dangers for Employees

pokemon-go-logoYou may not know a Pikachu from a Jigglypuff, but what employers should know is that the Pokémon Go craze from which these characters originate is showing few signs of its popularity waning and could pose risks for your employees, or others around them, if they are playing the game on their mobile devices during the course of a work day.

What is Pokémon Go?
Pokémon Go is a free, location-based augmented reality game that uses a mobile device’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle and train virtual creatures called Pokémon. Released in July 2016, it’s become a global phenomenon with the app being downloaded by more than 130 million people worldwide. If you’ve noticed more people walking around while staring at their mobile devices, particularly in downtowns or parks, there’s a good chance Pokémon Go is the reason.

What are the risks associated with Pokémon Go?

When people are paying more attention to their mobile devices than the world around them, they run the risk of causing – or being the victim of – careless accidents. Some examples include:

  • An individual attempting to play the game while driving could become distracted (similar to texting while driving) and cause a serious accident. So far, people have run their cars into trees and even a police car while using the app.
  • An individual playing the game while walking on a busy sidewalk could run into other people, bike riders or walk into traffic.
  • An individual playing the game while walking could also be at risk for slips and falls by ignoring curbs, not noticing uneven or slippery surfaces or missing obstructions in their walkway.
  • And even if someone is not playing the game, someone else who is could run into them and cause injury or harm.

Additionally, there has been a report of Pokémon Go players being lured into unfamiliar areas as part of the game play and being robbed.

How should employers respond to Pokémon Go?

Even United Heartland headquarters isn't immune from the reach of Pokémon Go.

Even United Heartland headquarters isn’t immune from the reach of Pokémon Go.  (Photo courtesy Marla Corniels)

Employers should remind their employees that they should avoid using apps on their mobile device during the work day that could distract them from their job tasks or expose them to injury. While Pokémon Go is just the latest craze, other apps, such as Candy Crush, Facebook, and even basic texting, can pose similar distractions and threaten a worker’s or their co-worker’s safety.

For more information about slip-and-fall risks, visit UnitedHeartland.com/walksafe for resources on slip-and-fall prevention or contact your loss control consultant who can work with you to analyze your workplace STF exposures and customize fall prevention programs suited to your environment.