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Recognizing and Preventing Impairment is Critical to Worker Safety

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November 8, 2021

In a recent National Safety Council (NSC) survey, over half (52 percent) of employers said employee impairment is decreasing workplace safety. Impairment at work can cause employee delays in thinking and reaction times, increase workplace injuries and errors, and may ultimately lead to higher Workers’ Compensation costs.

According to the NSC, impairment is considered “anything that could impede one’s ability to function normally or safely as a result of a number of factors from chemical substances, such as alcohol, opioids, or cannabis, to physical factors like fatigue, as well as experiencing mental distress and social factors like stress.” Common signs of impairment at work can include:

  • Erratic behavior or changes in personality
  • Deterioration of physical appearance
  • Working in an unsafe manner, increased mistakes
  • Consistent lateness, extended break times

Training Launched by NSC
While 70 percent of employers surveyed stated they discuss substance impairment during employee onboarding, less than half of employers discuss impairments such as fatigue, mental health and stress, according to the NSC.

NSC researchers have found that properly training supervisors can improve workers’ behavior as well as help to limit Workers’ Compensation costs. The NSC recently announced the release of a one-hour
e-learning course to help safety supervisors recognize and respond to impairment in the workplace.
Learn more about the NSC training and resources to address worker impairment at nsc.org.

Risk Management Solutions
It is recommended that businesses have a plan in place for identifying and responding to employee impairment. This may include a company policy defining what the business considers impairment at work, steps being taken to educate employees about impairment, and processes for testing and disciplinary action.

As part of a company’s impairment identification and prevention efforts, digital monitoring solutions, such as mobile applications, can conduct real-time “fit for work” employee assessments. Leading risk management technology is available to Amerisure policyholders exclusively through our Partners For Success® program. Contact your agency or Amerisure risk management consultant to learn more.

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