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There are many dangers and risks in any workplace today. From lifting safely to operating machinery to driving a vehicle, hazards surround us. Being aware, clear, and sober when we do our jobs is critical to our safety. Yet, alcohol and substance abuse is a major workplace hazard. It may not feel like a danger, but impaired workers put not only their own lives, but the lives of others in jeopardy every time they show up under the influence.
Alcohol affects the brain's ability to communicate within 30 seconds of the first drink. It also slows your response time and lowers your inhibition. Alcohol use by an employee can impact their workplace performance greatly. It can also impact coworkers. Someone who is using alcohol might act confused, have repeated headaches, miss work deadlines and be abrupt to others. Alcohol use by someone operating machinery or vehicles can be deadly. Signs of alcohol use include frequent breaks, using mouthwash, excessive tardiness and difficulty concentrating.
One of the most popular substance use today concerns marijuana. Marijuana is the most frequently used illicit drug in the United States and most commonly detected in drug screenings. As more and more states make recreational marijuana legal, it is especially important to understand how it can impact a worker's performance and safety. Just like alcohol, marijuana use can impair one's ability to think clearly and react in time. Trying to perform tasks under the influence can be costly and deadly, especially when operating vehicles or machinery. Using marijuana in the workplace is never allowed. Signs that someone may be under the influence in include red swollen eyes, frequent breaks, lethargy, distortion, confusion, and difficulty staying on task.
Drugs & Testing
Another substance abuse you will commonly see in the workplace is prescription drug use, commonly opioids, which can physically alter and impair someone’s ability to safely function in their job. Although it is understood that sometimes one needs to be on a medication, both the medication and the reason must be disclosed to a supervisor. If necessary, you might be moved to a different position while you are taking it. This is for your safety, and the safety of your coworkers, as just as alcohol and marijuana, the use of an opioid can seriously affect your ability to stay focused, clear-headed and safe. Symptoms of opioid use include mood changes, an inability to think clearly, behavioral issues and drowsiness. Your workplace may require a drug test before hire, or even a random one during your employment. This test is to insure you are not being impaired in your actions and are not a risk to others.
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