The Scope of Impairment and Workplace Safety Report

Defining and Understanding the Safety Impact of Impairment

While workplaces, researchers and government agencies might collect data on the numbers of specific injuries and illnesses, the underlying causes are less documented and understood. To better understand impairment – and how it’s defined, reported, and impacts safety – NSC conducted landscape research consisting of a scoping review of literature, interviews with experts and a review of public databases. Key takeaways include:

  • Impairment is not a well-defined concept in the workplace
  • Impairment is difficult to measure, so proxy measures are used
  • Impairment detection is best established by evaluating a worker’s baseline functioning
  • A collective effort is needed to standardize and streamline existing and potential impairment data collection
  • Factors more frequently associated with safety concerns include fatigue, sleepiness, burnout, night shifts, rotating shifts, mental distress, extreme heat and cold, alcohol use, and workplace exposure to hazardous substances

Based on the findings, the research offers several recommendations. For instance, EHS leaders should emphasize the human approach by identifying and providing relevant worker support. Researchers should focus on potential contributing factors to grow the evidence base behind workplace safety, health and impairment. And policymakers should expand funded programs and support workplace-based research that collects workplace impairment data.

Review the data snapshots and then submit the form to receive the full report.

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