Construction sites are dangerous even under the best of circumstances. The US Department of Labor reports that 14.3% of construction workers were diagnosed with a substance abuse problem within the past year. Roadway accidents, slips and falls, being struck by an object, accidents due to machinery, equipment or tool use, or exposure to harmful substances are some of the causes of injury or death. If a construction worker is impaired on the job, for whatever reason, he shouldn’t be on the job.
Chronic Disease or Condition
With impairment testing, individuals with a chronic disease or condition, and their caregivers, can help assess whether the course of the condition or disease - in view of ongoing therapies, treatment and time - is improving, stabilizing or deteriorating.
The consequences of drinking by high school and college students include approximately 1,800 student deaths, 599,000 student injuries, 696,000 assaults, and 97,000 sexual assaults, annually. Cannabis, cocaine, Adderall, ecstasy, methamphetamines, and opioids, all contribute to suicide being the second leading cause of death among college students. This is not to speak of the social isolation, low self-esteem, degradation of work, and estrangement from friends suffered by those abusing alcohol or drugs. For many students, on their own for the first time, guidance about substance abuse is critical. Impairment testing - which covers all these causes - fits right into existing educational programs, such as freshman orientation, to give students the self-knowledge and habits to make safer decisions.
Healthcare professionals are frequently under extreme stress. Staying awake for 17 hours has the same effect on performance as having a blood alcohol content of 0.05%. Staying awake for 24 hours is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 1.0%. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety concluded that, compared to medical residents working recurrent 16-hour shifts, those working recurrent 24-hour shifts make five times as many diagnostic errors, have twice as many on-the-job attentional errors, and have 300% more preventable adverse events leading to a patient’s death. Impairment due to fatigue can be, and should be, tested, measured and addressed.
Industrial insurer CNA reports that 6.5% of manufacturing workers engage in illegal drug use and 9.5% take part in heavy alcohol abuse. The National Safety Council estimates that fatigue costs US manufacturers more than $130 billion a year in health-related lost productivity. A typical US manufacturer can expect to lose approximately $1,000 per employee per year in fatigue-related lost productivity. Manufacturing requires acute attention to detail, teamwork, and precision of action to avoid accidents in potentially dangerous conditions.
Despite drastic reductions in injury rates over the last few decades, mining remains a hazardous industry. In 2019 there were 27 mining fatalities in the U.S. and more than 5,700 injuries. The median cost of each mining fatality from 2001 – 2013 was $1.42 million. Entrapment, explosion, falling, material handling, hand tools, haulage, hoisting, machinery are common causes of accident. One study shows that 57% of such accidents are caused by human error. Impairment testing can significantly reduce human error by giving employers early warning of impairment, regardless of cause.
Oil and Gas
Oil and gas workers suffer from explosions, fires, fall, high pressure lines, electrical and machine hazards, and can be struck by, caught in, and caught between objects. From 2010 to 2017, 489 oil and gas workers were killed on the job. Some oil field workers resort to stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine to help stay awake through shifts lasting up to 48 hours. Alcohol, opioids, and cannabis mitigate the discomfort of crashing from the stimulants or working through the pain of chronic injury. Oil fields are inherently dangerous workplaces where precision of thought and movement matter. Workers need to be alert at all times.
The number of concussions sustained by students participating in athletics increased six-fold from 2003 – 2013 for males athletes and 3.6-fold for female athletes. This is obviously a huge problem. Impairment testing is a quick inexpensive, “on-the-field” means to assess whether an athlete should be removed from the game and subject to further testing.
94% of traffic accidents are caused by driver error, intoxication, and other human factors. Impairment testing can detect impairment no matter the cause, including fatigue. According to a recent survey conducted by the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigued truck drivers are the main reason for crashes. 97% of transportation employers said they feel the impact of fatigue on their operations, with 64% believing it leads to productivity decline and 45% experiencing safety incidents.
Utility companies face a wide range of significant safety challenges: confined spaces, heights, travel, electricity, harsh outdoor environments, large vehicles, heavy machinery, and long hours under emergency circumstances. In 2019, there were 19 fatal injuries in the utility industry and approximately 20,000 medically consulted injuries.