While working in the construction or other industries, the work can be extremely dangerous as many hazards exist that may not be able to be effectively controlled. Everyone from upper management, the Safety Department, Foreman’s, and craft workers need to be of the same mindset on incident prevention- with an emphasized focus on ensuring that safety is understood to be a fundamental company value.
Naturally the focus of everyone can change and complacency might occur when you start getting into a routine of a job. Workers begin to think “this won’t happen to me,” or “I perform this job without incident every day,” etc. Those are challenges that safety professionals have to face and address on a daily basis. Now factor in if an employee is introducing drugs, alcohol, or any other substances that impair their ability to safely do the work. For this and other reasons, it is extremely important to establish a good Substance Abuse Program.
Having a great substance abuse program can consists of the following items:
When a company hires a new employee on to a job, it is important to establish right from the beginning of employment that drug, alcohol or other substance abuse will not be tolerated. The Pre-Employment Drug Screens that Amerisafe Group can provide are a great way to establish with new employees just how serious a company takes their Substance Abuse Program. The Occupational Health Professionals administering the drug screens; however, need to be cognizant of and ready for unique challenges in today's workplace (For example, fake urine occasionally being used for a pre-employment drug screen as detected by our onsite Nurses). Random Drug Testing better ensures that current employees continue to be drug and substance-free by subjecting random employees to on-the-spot screening. This further establishes the commitment the company has to preventing on-site impairment while working in construction and other industries.
Reasonable Suspicion Training provided by Amerisafe Group is extremely beneficial by educating front-line Supervisors and others on how to detect and handle substance abuse on the job. The ability to detect and deal with an impaired worker can potentially prevent serious incidents. Recently, an Amerisafe Site Safety Consultant noticed a construction worker oddly laying over a gang box, sweating profusely, and shaking. When asked what he was doing, the worker stated he was "looking for a tool." While speaking with him, our Consultant noticed that he is slurring his words. The worker was brought to the safety trailer to be examined for medical issues potentially causing symptoms. The Amerisafe onsite Nurse examined the worker and determined he was likely being influenced by a substance that was impairing him. When the worker was asked to take a drug screen, he became overly anxious to the point where he began to vomit. The employee refused to take a drug screen, which due to his company's Substance Abuse Program resulted in his termination. The recognition that something was wrong paid huge dividends. The recognition that something was wrong with this worker potentially prevented a major incident as prior to be noticed the worker was getting ready to operate an aerial lift with another employee inside-- putting himself and others in immediate danger.
Being trained to recognize irrational or impairment behavior potentially save the lives of many employees. Can you spot an impaired worker? Contact Amerisafe Group’s Occupational Health Division today to set up a consultation.
Mike Schrello, Amerisafe Group Safety Consultant