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Revisiting FedEx's cell phone policy one year after 2022 tragedy

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Posted at 12:40 PM, Apr 15, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — The night of April 15, 2021, gunshots gave way to panic, which then gave way to chaos at the Indianapolis FedEx Ground facility on Mirabel Road.

In the wake of a tragic shooting that left eight employees dead and five others injured, others working at the facility that evening were unable to contact friends and family, since FedEx policy prohibited workers from having their phones on the production floor.

In the hours after the tragedy, FedEx sent WRTV a statement explaining why.

The statement read: "To minimize potential distractions around package sortation equipment and dock operations, cell phone access within certain areas of FedEx ground field operations is limited to authorized team members."

Most employee cell phones were in their lockers that night, which left many people stuck in the unknown.

Workers had scrambled to evacuate the facility, leaving their phones behind and locked up.

Today, according to several of those employees, the policy remain unchanged.

Nadia McGraw is a FedEx package handler at the company's Greenwood facility.

She says only managers and employees who are given green stickers to place on their badges can use a phone on the production floor.

McGraw also says she understands the rules governing cell phone restrictions at FedEx facilities, when it comes to safety.

"It's very noisy in the building and you can't really hear people if you have like an ear bud in or if you're listening to music or you're on your phone, "McGraw says, "and if you see a hazmat go by, you can't really catch it if you're on your phone."

Following the shooting, there were calls for FedEx to adjust its cell phone policy. Suggestions included allowing workers carry phones on their person and allowing smaller devices, like the Apple Watch.

McGraw says she would rather keep her phone nearby, just in case, "to tell my loved ones I'm okay or contact police or 911."

We requested to meeting, FedEx management declined an on-camera interview to discuss any changes to the company's cell phone policy, but the company did issue a statement.

It reads, in part: "We do not publicly disclose details of our security protocols but have a number of measures in place designed to keep our people safe, including physical security procedures as well as workplace violence awareness and prevention measures. We regularly assess our security programs and processes to identify any potential enhancement opportunities. This includes our cell phone policy, which is based on workplace safety considerations."

Federal regulations say employers can impose restrictions on production and manufacturing floors.

The "National Labor Relations Act" states employees have the right to use their personal phones during breaks and away from restricted areas.

Nadia McGraw says those are the rules she follows at FedEx.

"You can have it in a locker, but it's locked up," McGraw says, "So you can have it on break, you just can't bring it inside the facility past security guards."

FedEx's cell phone policy may be unchanged since the mass shooting, but WRTV has learned security measures have ramped up on its properties since that deadly mass shooting. The exact details of those security measures are not being publicly released due to company policy and for employee safety.

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