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Report reveals workplace impairment safety concerns

01 September 2021

A REPORT published by medical and safety technology company Dräger Safety UK, which assesses the impact of COVID-19, Brexit and workplace culture on health and safety in UK workplaces, warns of a rising use of drugs and alcohol which is causing concern about impairment in the workplace.

This concern is most prevalent among those managers working in the transport and logistics sector. 

Key findings: 

  • Six in ten managers (61%) who work in transport and logistics say their organisation is extremely concerned about workplace impairment and resulting injuries and accidents due to alcohol and drug use, and that their companies include the issue in their safety procedures and policies.
  • A further third (32%) are quite concerned but have not yet factored the problem within their safety policy. These figures fall to 53% and 21% across all industries which took part in the research.
  • While concern for the impact of prescribed drugs was once again highest in the transport and logistics industry, this dropped to less than a half (45%) which were extremely concerned and had policies in place. This means that 55% of the industry are not taking any active steps to curb the    growing use of prescription medicines.
ONS figures report that one in five adults in Britain have experienced symptoms of depression during the pandemic, with young people, disabled people and renters hit the hardest. At the same time prescriptions for benzodiazepines and anti-depressants have dramatically increased.

The side effects of this kind of this kind of medication vary but may include drowsiness, dizziness, loss of balance, confusion, or memory loss.

The road safety charity Brake states that drug driving, including prescription medication, is a factor in one in 20 fatal crashes. Driving under the influence of cocaine or opiates more than doubles the risk of a fatal accident, while combining cannabis with alcohol increases the risk by 16 times.

Graham Hurst, spokesperson for Impairment at Dräger Safety UK comments, “The pandemic, and the resulting anxiety it has created, has undoubtedly shone more of a spotlight on mental health and its consequences, including increased alcohol consumption and drug use. 

“Our research has indicated that, perhaps not surprisingly, this is a trend which is keenly felt in the transport and logistics industry. However, it is still concerning that more than half (55%) of transport and logistics companies do not have policies in place to manage workplace issues caused by prescribed medication.

“This suggests that there is less understanding of the side effects and risks associated with these medications. But as the industry faces serious driver shortages, there will be greater pressure than ever placed on existing staff.     As a result, it’s essential that there is greater awareness of the potential issues associated with prescribed medications and that organisations make workplace safety provisions to support their employees as the country opens up once again.”

The full report is available to download from Dräger’s website here.