Safety Alert - Drugs in the Workplace

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Illicit drugs, prescription, and over-the-counter medication can affect an employee’s ability to make decisions, exercise sound judgment, and operate equipment safely. Approximately 2% of work related deaths can be attributed to illicit drug use.  The types of drugs that contributed to these deaths include amphetamines, cannabis, barbiturates and narcotics (Safe Work Australia).  In 1998, The National Occupational Health and Safety Commission found that stimulants were found to have contributed to 14 workplace deaths involving motor vehicle accidents over a 4 year period.  There are controls to aide in discouraging illicit drug use or misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications including a written company policy and an effective drug testing program including post-accident testing.  There may be some limitations with regards to prescription medication, but it’s important to ensure that employees know to follow the dosing instructions and that certain side effects may require employees to keep from completing normal job duties while taking these medications (i.e. do not operate heavy machinery). (more…)

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