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Recognize the signs of impairment

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Alcohol, cannabis, prescription drugs, fatigue and mental distress can all cause impairment in the workplace. “Impairment risks are everyone’s responsibility,” the National Safety Council says.

Stay alert and help keep your workplace safe. Here’s how:

  1. Spot the signs. Are you or a co-worker less focused than usual, or acting differently? Consider taking a break or alerting others to evaluate the situation. Don’t jump to conclusions about why someone might be impaired.
  2. Start the conversation. If you don’t feel like yourself, assess your reactions and be honest with how you’re feeling. For others, ask how they’re feeling and if they need to take a break. It’s not always easy to have this conversation, but ignoring it could put you or your co-workers at risk.
  3. Ask for assistance. If you can’t work safely, ask for assistance from your supervisor or a nearby co-worker. Do the same for any co-workers showing signs of impairment.
  4. Know your policies. You can help prevent impairment-related hazards by learning more about your workplace’s policies. Ask your supervisor or human resources department about available employee assistance programs. Don’t be afraid to seek help when you need it.

”On the Safe Side” podcast mini episode

Rebecca Martin and Claire Stroer, program managers in the impairment practice initiative at the National Safety Council, discuss an array of impairment issues that can affect workers, the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace and how to overcome the stigma of asking for help. Listen today.

From the National Safety Council's "Impairment Recognition and Response Training for Supervisors" course. Learn more about this new NSC eLearning which trains frontline supervisors, safety professionals and managers to recognize and properly respond to diverse causes of workplace impairment. © 2021 National Safety Council

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