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National Safety Month 2019: Week 4

Impairment: National Safety Month
Photo: UrosPoteko/iStockphoto

Impairment at work, whether from alcohol, marijuana or opioid use, is “a major roadblock to workplace safety, and the effects are more common than you think,” the National Safety Council says. The risks are numerous:

  • Prescription drugs can impair your ability to work and drive, so ask your doctor about any potential side effects before starting a new medication.
  • Impairment begins with the first drink, so don’t try to convince yourself that you’ll be fine to work or drive after “just one.”
  • Don’t take chances. “Nothing – not a doctor’s prescription or past experience with an impairing substance – is an excuse to work unsafely,” NSC states.

Concerns about marijuana

The decriminalization and legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana raises safety concerns in the workplace.

For example, for workers who drive or operate heavy machinery, there’s no “safe” level of THC (the chemical component responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects).

Also, there are many unknowns about marijuana use, NSC says. “Do not assume that consuming it one way is less impairing or safer than another way; there is no way to know.”

Find out what your company’s policies are regarding marijuana use. Even if recreational use is legal in your state, your company may still prohibit its use.

Safe at Work Pledge

The National Safety Council is asking Americans to take part in its Safe at Work Pledge. According to NSC, preventable workplace deaths have increased nearly 18% since 2009, outpacing the number of hours worked by around 6%.

Mark P. Vergnano, chairman of the NSC Board of Directors and president and CEO of The Chemours Co., made the request in an April 18 press release acknowledging Workers' Memorial Day, which took place April 28.

“Workers’ Memorial Day is an opportunity to not only remember those who lost their lives on the job, but also recommit to protecting workers from death and injury,” Vergnano said in the release. “Drawing national attention to this issue helps focus all stakeholders on significant ways that we can improve employee safety. Let’s honor those lost by doing more to protect the workers of tomorrow.”

Take the pledge at