A new report from the National Safety Council reveals that a majority of employers are interested in using impairment detection technology (IDT) to screen for multiple forms of impairment in the workplace.
IDT is technology with the potential to screen for multiple forms of impairment – including from chemical substances, stress, fatigue and mental distress – to aid in fitness-for-work assessments, and the new NSC survey shows the majority of responding employers are interested.
16% already using this technology
“Only 16% of respondents reported currently using impairment detection technology but many employers expressed interest in learning about and implementing these technologies,” according to the report.
Specifically, “Opioid impairment (70%) received the greatest interest in implementing the technology, while mental health (79%) received the greatest interest in learning more about technologies in that field.”
“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. “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.”
5 companies claim tech that detects all 7 impairment types
In February 2021, the NSC was the first national organization to call on employers to look at more than just substance abuse when addressing workplace impairment. This approach includes chemical substances such as drugs and alcohol to other factors like fatigue, stress and mental distress. The report includes information on several IDTs that claim to detect all of these factors.
Fifteen impairment technologies from 15 companies were eligible for inclusion in the analysis conducted by NSC. Of the 15 IDTs analyzed:
- five companies (33.3%) claimed their technology could detect all seven impairment types (alcohol, opioids, cannabis, other substances, fatigue, medical conditions and other forms of possible mental impairment, such as mental distress)
- eight companies (53.3%) reported the ability to detect at least five impairment types, and
- two companies (13.3%) provided more specialized impairment detection.
Program to train supervisors, safety professionals
The NSC also mentions that supervisors also have the ability to recognize and respond to perceived impairment in the workplace. The organization launched a program in October 2021 to equip supervisors and safety professionals with the proper training to do so.
More information on that program can be found here.