Workplace Impairment

Most people think of workplace impairment as substance misuse. But let’s take a moment to broaden our definition. 

The National Safety Council suggests we define impairment as “anything that could impede an employee from being able to function typically and safely.” 

Now that we are all up-to-date on impairment — let us explore the risks of working while impaired.

Drugs and Chemical Factors

Almost 9% of working adults have a substance use disorder; that is approximately 48 people from our current workforce of 530 employees.

With cannabis legalized in 21 states, many employees feel free to indulge. However, this does not permit use in the workplace.

Below are some examples of how drugs and chemicals affect impairment:

Marijuana slows your reaction time, decision-making, coordination, and perception.


Cocaine impairs perception, memory, and attention.

Prescriptions may cause sleepiness, impaired vision, and coordination.

As a friendly reminder, showing up to work impaired from drugs and/or alcohol violates our Substance Abuse Policy. 


Remember last month when we discussed how vital sleep is to your body? If not, it’s okay; let this serve as a reminder.

Lack of sleep causes fatigue and increases your risk of an accident. Fatigue may lead to a slower reaction time, poor judgment, distractions, loss of awareness, and mood changes.

Chronic sleep deprivation has risks both physically and mentally. Below is a list of sleep deprivation effects, but these are not all-inclusive: 


Increased risk of heart attack and stroke

Lowered fertility and libido

Increased levels of stress hormones that contribute to obesity

Memory impairments

Impaired Driving

Safe driving requires good judgment, quick responses, and focus. Alcohol and drugs affect your ability to do these very things. Please drive safely. 

Although we know the risks of drunk driving, it does not lessen the number of infractions. Statistics show that every 45 minutes, there is a death involving an alcohol-impaired driver. 

Unfortunately, research is lacking on how drugs affect driving ability. However, we learned above how drugs affect your impairment.

Here are some suggestions on how you may prevent impaired driving: 

Plan ahead

Get a ride home

Appoint a designated driver

Know the side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Often, impaired driving is based on alcohol and drugs, but don’t forget about driving while drowsy.


Did you know that losing two hours of sleep is equivalent to having three beers when speaking of impairment? A simple solution is to get more sleep. 

Mental Health and Psychosocial Factors

After two years of living through the height of a pandemic, it is not surprising that mental health conditions have increased. 

Reportedly, anxiety and depression are the top two disorders. Employees who experience mental distress have an increased rate of absenteeism, loss of productivity, poor concentration, disorganization, and apathy.

Workplace impairment can lead to work-related injuries and illnesses. Within our ever-changing world, many factors could contribute to our inability to manage circumstances. However, there are resources to aid in the fight.

We offer an Employee Assistance Plan through Guardian and Uprise Health. There are resources on mental health, financial health, work-life balance, and more. 

There are after-work-hours phone numbers and chatbots you can consult as well. Feel free to contact Human Resources on how to get connected. 

Working while impaired comes with a slew of consequences and potential negative outcomes.

Do what is right, smart, and safe by bringing a clear, well-rested head to work with you every day, and continue working with a Spirit of Excellence!


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