‘Impairment Detection Technology and Workplace Safety’: NSC releases report

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Itasca, IL — A new report from the National Safety Council is aimed at better informing employers and policymakers on the availability and reliability of impairment detection technology, along with considerations for implementation.

Impairment Detection Technology and Workplace Safety features findings from NSC research.

IDTs have the potential to help employers identify impairment from multiple causes, including substances and fatigue, and aid in fitness-for-work assessments, the council says. According to an NSC survey, the majority of responding employers are interested in implementing IDTs, yet only 16% are using them and many have concerns.

“Detecting when a worker is impaired is critical to the safety, health and well-being of an organization’s workforce,” said Jenny Burke, vice president of impairment practice at NSC. “[The] results of the survey … show a confidence in the technology, while simultaneously presenting an opportunity to research these technologies.”

In February 2021, NSC began calling on employers to consider more than substance misuse when addressing workplace impairment, as well as outline in policies and procedures anything that could impede an individual’s ability to function normally or safely. This approach takes into account:

  • Chemical substances such as alcohol, opioids or cannabis
  • Physical factors such as fatigue
  • Mental distress and social factors such as stress

Fifteen impairment technologies from 15 organizations were eligible for inclusion in the analysis. Of the 15 IDTs analyzed:

  • Five of the organizations claimed their technology could detect for all impairment types discussed: alcohol, opioids, cannabis, other substances, fatigue, medical conditions and other forms of possible mental impairment such as mental distress.
  • Eight reported the ability to detect at least five impairment types.
  • Two provided more specialized impairment detection.

Full findings from the report, as well as an IDT web tool, are available for free. To learn more about impairment at work, visit nsc.org/impairment.