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How impairment, stress, and fatigue impact workplace safety

workplace stress and fatigue

While there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, the pandemic continues to have a wide impact on our daily lives, including workplace safety. Workers are under more stress now than ever before and, as a result, can pose a risk to themselves and others on the job. Learn what can be done to protect the nation’s workforce.

‘Worker impairment’ takes on a new meaning

For decades, the phrase “worker impairment” has commonly been associated with employees who abuse legal and illicit substances that impact their job performance. They show up drunk, they pop pills on their breaks, they smoke pot in the parking lot – in each case negatively impacting how well they do their job and, at worst, causing accidents that threaten the health and safety of everyone around them.

The pandemic has changed the conversation, however. A recent National Safety Council (NSC) survey found 90% of employers are concerned about the fitness of workers to perform their jobs competently and safely. The new definition of “workplace impairment” still includes substance abuse, but it's being expanded to include fatigue, mental distress, depression, anxiety, and stress. This is largely linked to the pressures of living and working during the pandemic.

‘Worker impairment’ requires a new approach

The NSC says it is vital to reform the national discussion about worker impairment. The study says the definition of worker impairment must be broadened. It should include anything that hurts a worker’s ability to perform jobs normally and safely. This includes issues related to the pandemic.

The goal is to help employers adjust their policies and programs to better address issues other than substance abuse. For example, while 70% of employers said they discuss substance abuse during employee orientation, only 47% address fatigue, mental health, stress, and other debilitating factors.

‘Worker impairment’ still a serious problem

The good news: The NSC says it is standing by to assist employers with free resources to address the changing nature of worker impairment. The bad news: Many employers appear to be acting as if they couldn't care less, sacrificing worker safety in the name of profit. If you have been injured on the job, you'll likely face many challenges. You may be out of work and unable to support your family. The workers’ compensation system, meanwhile, will seem like it was designed to frustrate you at every turn. Even an innocent mistake on your part can undermine your entire case.

At Tabor Law Firm, P.A., our attorneys have made it their mission to help people just like you navigate through the confusing process of obtaining workers' compensation benefits. We have over 30 years of experience and we know the claims process inside and out. If you've been injured at work, let our family fight for you. Contact us today for a free consultation. We have offices conveniently located in Ridgeland and Jackson, and we proudly serve clients throughout Mississippi.

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