Job Safety

October 10, 2005

We Don’t Want to Know (!)

We have had many meetings with top safety managers at some of the world’s leading operating companies. These men, and women, are immensely interested in impairment testing. They are well aware of how fatigue and impairment can undermine safety and, incidentally, the bottom line.

But, occasionally, we get an astonishing reaction. “We do not want to know if an employee is impaired”. These are managers in companies with an elaborate system of drug testing and well financed safety programs. And keep in mind that our tests are set to detect severe impairment – the equivalent of three or four drinks. Letting someone drive a truck or operate a crane in that condition is unthinkable. But they do not want to know.

Worker and management teamwork and trust has been undermined in such places. That issue has to be addressed first. But part of this reaction comes from the need to see a way to integrate impairment testing with other testing systems and with safety in general. A company that has never tried impairment testing does not have a policy on managing the process. Handling an employee who does not pass an impairment test seems to be a major issue. So better “not to know.” But, of course, these companies do have a policy on this. It is the same policy that dictates how to handle workers who come in intoxicated.

We, at BLT, do not want to write policy for a Fortune 500 company. But we can now offer a draft for their consideration. It simply outlines a series of logical steps for dealing with an employee who cannot pass an impairment test. Ask for it if you are interested.