The Use of Impairment Detection Technology to Improve Worker Safety

The Use of Impairment Detection Technology to Improve Worker Safety

A recent study shows that some employers may be interested in IDT to test for employee impairment.

Employees who are impaired put themselves and their organization at risk.

In a recent survey by the National Safety Council (NSC), 45 percent of respondents said “impairment was causing more near misses” at work. Nearly 40 percent reported that impairment resulted in more injuries.

Employee impairment can be caused by alcohol, substances such as opioids or cannabis, mental health conditions, medical issues or fatigue.

A potential way to address impairment in the workplace is to use Impairment Detection Technology (IDT). This technology, according to NSC, can be used to identify different kinds of impairment and determine if a worker is fit to work. Some IDTs can detect multiple forms of impairment, not just one.

Few respondents in the NSC survey said their companies use IDTs, only 16 percent total. However, many reported that their companies were interested in them. In the survey, 79 percent said they are somewhat or very interested in learning more about IDT technology for mental health impairment. About 70 percent said they were somewhat or very interested in using IDT to help with opioid impairment.

“Detecting when a worker is impaired is critical to the safety, health and wellbeing of an organization’s workforce,” said Jenny Burke, vice president of impairment practice at NSC in a press release. “When results of the survey showed 16% of employers surveyed are using IDTs, it shows a confidence in the technology, while simultaneously presenting an opportunity to research these technologies. NSC did what it does best, and the findings of that research make up this report, giving employers the resource they need to make informed safety decisions regarding these detection technologies.”

Our latest episode of OH&S SafetyPod addresses employee impairment and effective programs to test for impairment. To learn more about employee impairment, listen to our podcast.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

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