Reducing the risk of impaired employees

Occupational Health Nurses on staff can help employers deal effectively with legal and safety issues caused by impairment, regardless of its cause
By Dianne Dyck
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 12/05/2017

‘Many employees are hard-pressed to swear that they have never been at work and  impaired.’ No doubt, this statement will raise eyebrows, but think about it: Impairment is experiencing a diminished, reduced, or damaged state of being. It stems from a disease state, injury, or substance-related condition. Yet, there are more sources. This article explores the term impairment, identifies its relevance in workplaces, and how employers having Occupational Health Nurses can mitigate the negative impacts, reduce legal and safety risks to the employer, and facilitate accommodation measures.

Impairment is a problem in body function or structure. The World Health Organization terms it an activity-limitation — a difficulty encountered when executing a task or action — while a participation-restriction is a problem experienced in life situations. This broader definition encompasses traditional sources of impairment along with other sources such as the negative effects of fatigue, shiftwork, prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, medication interactions, and aging.

Disease state