NSC Alcohol, Drugs and Impairment Division news Federal agencies Drugs

Preventing Impairment in the Workplace Act calls for NIOSH training program


Washington — Legislation recently introduced in the House would direct NIOSH to create a national workplace training program aimed at helping employers recognize, respond to and prevent on-the-job impairment.

According to the National Vital Statistics System, U.S. overdose deaths rose 11.9% between February 2021 and February 2022 (the latest data available). The provisional number of 108,642 overdose deaths for that 12-month period marks the second highest total in history.

Introduced by Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT), the Preventing Impairment in the Workplace Act (H.R. 8591) would require – within 12 months of its enactment – NIOSH to research and develop an educational program for employers, workers and “relevant workplace populations” on preventing impairment caused by cannabis, opioid and other drug use, as well as the risks of working while impaired.

Additionally, the program would address:

  • The importance of preventing, recognizing and responding to impairment.
  • The role of various workplace professionals when recognizing and responding to perceived impairment.
  • Common signs and symptoms of impairment.
  • Common workplace impairment prevention measures and the proper steps to respond to perceived impairment.
  • Related workplace policy guidance, along with information on relevant laws and regulations.

The program would be available to full- and part-time employees, as well as anyone employed by a state or the federal government.

“We owe it to every American to create the safest possible workplace,” Owens said in a press release. “The Preventing Impairment in the Workplace Act meets this crisis head on with an all-of-the-above strategy by creating a national training program to help employers prevent, recognize and respond to impairment.”

Added Jenny Burke, vice president of the impairment practice at the National Safety Council: “It’s so important to create avenues for employers to address these safety risks that are often under-investigated yet pervasive on and off the job. This bill will provide a path for employers to effectively recognize and respond to all types of impairment, which will save lives.”

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