Vaccines do a darn good job at preventing disease. If only we could vaccinate against safety incidents.
I got my first COVID19 vaccine on Saturday (Pfizer for the win!) so am 50% protected.
It was quick. It was painless.
Another three weeks and I’ll have 97% protection. Lowering infection rates. Lowering treatment costs. Lowering death rates.
I’m here for it!
The pandemic changed our society’s sense of normal. In the blink of an eye, there were two types of employees: essential and work-from-home (WFH).
Essential workers, like those in health care, grocery stores, and construction, found themselves working long hours in dangerous conditions, without permanent benefit of hazard pay. Many worked 80 hours a week or more. We proclaimed them heroes. For WFH folks, their overworking was less visible, but they worked three hours more per day (Davis, 2020). They no longer had clear boundaries and there was no escaping work (Cook, 2020).
In truth, before the pandemic, we held being overworked-and-overly busy in high esteem. We bragged about late nights (or sleepless nights), overtime paychecks, and packed schedules.
Being tired at work was a badge of honor. That’s how we knew who the best workers were.
Yet, in the 21st century we have discovered that fatigue is more of an impairment than alcohol (Lerman et al., 2012). Showing up to work exhausted is frequently grounds for recognition, whereas showing up drunk is grounds for termination.
The difference is, we know when we are drunk, yet most of us don’t recognize our impairment when we are fatigued. We do not reek of fatigue and you can’t smell it on our breath. Similar to being drunk, we also underestimate risk, and our reaction times are slower. We get absent minded. Our ability to process information is reduced, as is our coordination. (Lerman et al., 2012). Drunk on lack of sleep.
If we can’t recognize our own impairment, how do we recognize it in the folks we supervise?
Can we vaccinate against impairment in the workplace?
Unlike COVID or drunkenness, the sources of impairment can be physical, emotional, or chemical. We can’t say “Stay away from [fill in the blank] before work”. Impairment can be from a drug interaction or a disagreement with our significant other. It can be dehydration. It can be deadly, whether we are software developers or utility line workers.
Happily, the answer is YES, we can essentially vaccinate against impairment at work.
AlertMeter from Predictive Safety is an app-based assessment. Like a vaccine, it has high efficacy rates and can be easily distributed. You can do it whether folks work from home, in a vehicle, or at a business.
In just 60 seconds, you can have a top-level screen for impairment. You can lower recordable incident rates; lower worker’s comp costs; lower injury and death rates.
It’s quick. It’s painless.
I’m here for it! Are you?
Karen L. Jefferson CPMR CSP is a guest blogger, in her other job, she is a manufacturer's representative serving public safety, government, education, business and industry. If you're interested in learning more about Predictive Safety, contact her at Howdy@RockyMountain-TSG.com or 720.443.3256
Davis, M. and Green, J (2020, April 23). Three Hours Longer, the Pandemic Workday Has Obliterated Work-Life Balance, Bloomberg. Link.
Cook, D. (2020, March 18). Remote working: the new normal for many, but it comes with hidden risks – new research. Link.
Lerman, S. Eskin, E. Flower, D. George, E. Gerson, B. Hartenbaum, N. Hursh, S. Moore-Ede, M. (2012, February). Fatigue Risk Management in the Workplace, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Volume 54, Number 2.