Workplace Impairment Is Not Just Substance Abuse

90% of employers feel “impairment” at work means more than just substance abuse and can also include mental distress and fatigue, according to results from a 2020 National Safety Council (NSC) survey.

The survey shows 90% of employers are concerned about mental health, chronic stress and fatigue impacting workers’ fitness for duty along with concerns regarding substance abuse.

Survey data underscores how the pandemic has impacted workplace safety and highlighted the need to include other factors under workplace impairment, according to an NSC news release.

The NSC urges employers to define “impairment” as anything that could “impede one’s ability to function normally or safely as a result of a number of factors,” including chemical substances, fatigue, mental distress and stress.

A holistic assessment of the term was begun in 2020, and NSC found 93% of employers agreed with a broader description that included health and wellbeing.

Addressing the Problem

Only 47% of employers discuss other forms of impairment besides substance abuse during employee onboarding, despite previous research showing, for example, that tired, fatigued employees negatively impacted 90% of employers.

In response to the survey results, the NSC is offering mental health and wellbeing resources along with guidebooks and other materials.

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