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If you employ or supervise people, especially in a safety-sensitive industry, the answer is an unequivocal "no." And this is exactly why you need proactive fatigue management in your workplace.

Alcohol intoxication and fatigue have been shown to impair brain and body function the same way. Consider these two scenarios:

  1. Crane operator Alan spent much of the night tending to his daughter, who had become ill. Alan got only two full hours of sleep and has been awake since 2:00 a.m.
  2. Forklift operator Ernie's one beer with lunch in fact became three, plus a shot of bourbon. Still, Ernie has a lot of cargo to move this afternoon.

When considering the safety risk posed by Alan versus Ernie, many of us may react with the notion that Ernie poses the more significant risk, because he is likely intoxicated. In addition, some may prefer to focus on Ernie because his behavior deserves a punitive response.

In reality, the risk posed by Alan's lack of sleep could be just as severe as the risk posed by Ernie's intoxication. Maybe even more so. There could be other factors that amplify Alan's impairment, too. For example, the severity of his daughter's illness could be weighing on his mind and causing him emotional distress.

You may be wondering, "How could a fatigue management program have anything to do with sleep at home, much less emotional distress?" Well, fatigue management doesn't have to be about only shift work-related fatigue, and it doesn't have to consist solely of placing limits on work hours and schedules. Predictive Safety's PRISM™ and AlertMeter® platforms use employees' own input and performance data to identify impairment risk, whether from fatigue or other sources, including drugs and alcohol. These platforms allow supervisor intervention before an impaired employee can pose a risk to safety, and they are completely non-intrusive.

Companies using PRISM™ or AlertMeter® have seen significant reductions in accidents and workers' comp claims, reductions in turnover, improvements in productivity, and better attendance during night shifts. Plus, we've heard reports from AlertMeter® customers that it has identified instances of worker fatigue from dehydration, non-alertness due to emotional distress, cognitive impairment from side-effects of pain medication, and it has even led to employees admitting to having substance addiction problems.

Both Alan and Ernie may both be able to effectively hide their impaired states, especially if they work with little direct interaction with co-workers and supervisors. But if you had a way to discover their impairment— before they began operating their equipment—wouldn't you want to know?

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