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The National Safety Council (NSC) describes worker impairment as “the hidden risk that prevents workers from being at their best and able to perform safely.” And what’s worse, impairment on the job can even result in death.
Everything from substance abuse to fatigue or medical issues can create concerns within the workplace for the overall well-being of employees. And business leaders are worried too. According to a recent survey conducted by NSC, 90% of employers say “they are concerned about alcohol, opioids, mental health disorders and chronic stress in their workplaces.”
But according to the safety agency, there are new tools to consider to help businesses better evaluate risk and tackle problems before they lead to negative outcomes.
One way is through the use of impairment detection technology – or IDT – which is characterized as any type of technology that can screen workers for multiple forms of impairment and assess their readiness for on-the-job activities. According to a recently published, comprehensive report on IDTs, NSC looks at ways they are being implemented, determining their effectiveness while also acknowledging barriers like worker buy-in or test validity concerns.
In the end, NSC says that impairment detection is playing a role in making workplaces safer. They point out that many of the surveyed companies using IDTs were looking primarily at fatigue issues and stress that these multitudes of factors all play a role in safe workability.
The NSC report adds that, rather than rely on supervisors to assess workers based on their own instincts and perceptions, “safety technologies may provide a more objective measure to help employers identify and address impairment in the workplace.”
According to data published in the NSC report, nearly one-fifth of Americans live with a mental illness and more than 43% are sleep-deprived. Says Jenny Burke, VP of impairment practice at NSC, “Detecting when a worker is impaired is critical to the safety, health, and wellbeing of an organization’s workforce.”
Image Credit: TIU