Impairment - National Safety Council
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Save Lives by Addressing Impairment

Impairment is often a hidden risk that prevents workers from being at their best and able to perform safely. On the roadway and at work, impairment can kill. It also impacts businesses' bottom line.

Multiple recent reports indicate spikes in opioid overdoses and ongoing concerns about mental distress or substance use disorders related to COVID-19. As a result, employers are finding themselves with an expanding list of issues that are threatening the health and wellbeing of their employees. In fact, 90% of employers say they are concerned about alcohol, opioids, mental health disorders and chronic stress in their workplaces, according to a recent NSC employer survey. More than half said impairment is decreasing the safety of their workforce.

Check out this infographic for more survey findings.

NSC is calling on employers to take a broad approach to addressing workplace impairment. Specifically, NSC urges that employer policies and procedures define workplace impairment as anything that could impede one's ability to function normally or safely – from chemical substances, such as alcohol, opioids or cannabis, to physical factors like fatigue, as well as mental distress and social factors like stress. Most employers surveyed – 93% – agree with this broader description.

Workplace Impacts, Innovations in Response to COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic raged across the U.S., employers and employees faced challenges beyond just the virus. According to recent data, one in four employees shows signs of PTSD, and many adults report increases in alcohol consumption or substance use compared to pre-pandemic. Most concerning, in 2021, more than 107,000 people died from a drug overdose, the most ever in a year.

These issues brought enormous risks to American workplaces, but many employers took action to keep their employees safe. The new NSC COVID-19 Impact & Innovation Member Survey Report highlights how employers were affected by the pandemic and how their responses can inform holistic approaches to traditional workplace health and safety concerns.

Download the full report, or learn about key findings in these brief research snapshots:

Employee Assistance Programs
Innovation
● Substance Use and Mental Health

Resources to Address Impairment

Employers must consider all forms of impairment when determining whether an individual is fit to work or drive safely. The following NSC resources can help employers create a workplace free from impairment, with policies, procedures and materials to support employee health and prioritize safety.

NEW NSC TRAINING
Impairment Recognition and Response Training for Supervisors
Provides the foundation for recognizing impairment and a framework for responding to it so supervisors can move their workplace in a safer direction.
Chemical Substances
Learn how substance use impacts your workforce.
Get the free Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit.
Cannabis at Work
Learn more about the risks of cannabis in the workplace.
Warn Me Labels
Order free labels and return envelopes for prescription opioids.
Workplace Drug Use
Learn how employers can make a difference and help keep workers safe.
Overdose Awareness Day
Make a difference during this global event, held annually on Aug. 31.
Physical Factors
Learn the cost of fatigue on your bottom line.
Get the free Fatigue at Work Employer Toolkit.
Mental Health and Social Factors
See how you can promote employee mental health and wellbeing.
Help prevent impairment-related injuries. Make a difference today.

Costs of Mental Distress in the Workplace
Learn how mental distress impacts your workforce.


Additional Resources
Log in for member-exclusive impairment tools: posters, safety talks, checklists & more.
Over 10,000 lives are lost annually to impaired driving crashes.

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