Impairment

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Many tasks people perform at work require their full alertness, attention, and accuracy. We often think of impairment as a result of substance use or in terms of addiction or dependence to alcohol or drugs (legal or illegal). However, impairment can result from various situations, including fatigue, stress, medical conditions, and prescription medications.

Every worker in Newfoundland and Labrador has the right to a healthy and safe workplace, which includes protection from harm if they or coworkers may be impaired. Impairment can be addressed with a policy and procedure, so that safety is maintained, and as needed, help can be provided in a professional and consistent manner.

Everyone is Responsible

Employers, supervisors, and workers may not enter or stay at a workplace or job site while their ability to perform work responsibilities safely is impaired by an intoxicating substance or from other causes. This duty includes working in a way that protects the health and safety of other workers, as well as the individual.

Where a manufacturer’s instructions indicate that equipment or machinery must not be operated by persons who have taken intoxicating or impairing substance, a zero-tolerance level applies to work with this equipment or machinery.

Note: A zero-tolerance THC blood-drug concentration is in effect for drivers of commercial motor vehicles in Newfoundland and Labrador. A person with a medical authorization to use cannabis issued under the Cannabis Act who is a commercial driver cannot drive while impaired, but is exempt from licence suspensions or vehicle impoundment based only on having a detectable presence of THC in their body, as detected by a roadside screening device.

Employer Responsibilities

It is recommended that each workplace have a drug and alcohol policy and procedures that addresses impairment. The policy and procedures should:

  • Include mechanisms for identifying and reporting impairment (self, others).
  • Outline arrangements for maintaining personal information and confidentiality.
  • State if an item or substance is allowed on the premise, and if so, under what circumstances.
  • Provide training to managers, supervisors, and workers.
  • List any available assistance, such as an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) or other resources.
  • Describe under what circumstances drug testing will be administered, if applicable.
  • Explain how disciplinary action will be taken, when necessary.
  • Describe when accommodation will be considered. Human rights law requires that employers accommodate workers with medical needs or disabilities (including disabilities from substance addition or dependence).

Employers should develop their policies and procedures in consultation with the OHS Committee, WHS Representative, or Designate, and union representatives, if applicable. It should outline what is an acceptable code of behaviour, state how impairment discussions will take place, what options are available, and actions that may be taken.

When observing others, consider if there is a risk to the individual’s safety or the safety of others. For example, while impaired:

  • Does the person have the ability to perform the job or task safely at that moment (e.g., driving, operating machinery, use of sharp objects)
  • Is there an impact on cognitive ability or judgement?
  • Are there effects of a medical condition or treatment that need to be considered?

Supervisor Responsibilities

Supervisors should be educated and trained on how to recognize impairment. Signs that someone may be impaired at work include:

  • Personality changes or erratic behaviour, such as more interpersonal conflicts or overreacting to criticism.
  • Odour of alcohol or drugs on breath or clothing.
  • Glassy or red eyes, unsteady gait, slurring, or poor coordination.
  • Consistent lateness, absenteeism, or reduced productivity or quality of work.

Note: It is not the role of the supervisor or employer to diagnose a medical issue, or possible substance use or dependency problem. Their role is to identify if a worker is impaired and unable to perform their job tasks safely, and to take the appropriate actions in keeping with the employer’s policy and procedures.

Worker Responsibilities

Workers must:

  • Make all reasonable efforts to protect their own health and safety, and that of workers and other persons at, or near, the workplace.
  • Discuss with your supervisor anything that might impair your ability to work safely.
  • Participate in training and understand the impact of working while impaired.

Related Topics

Impairment

A temporary physical, psychological, or physiological state of the worker that has a negative impact on performance or creates a hazard in the workplace.

Commercial motor vehicle

The provincial Highway Traffic Act defines a commercial motor vehicle as: “a vehicle designed to carry goods, and includes a bus, a school bus, a truck, a truck tractor and other motor vehicles designed for commercial use but does not include camper type vehicles designed or adapted exclusively for recreational purposes.”
https://www.assembly.nl.ca/Legislation/sr/statutes/h03.htm#13_

OHS committee

Where 10 or more workers are employed at a workplace, the employer shall establish an occupational health and safety committee to monitor the health, safety and welfare of the workers employed at the workplace.
A committee shall consist of 2 to 12 persons. Where the employer and workers cannot agree on the size of the committee, the minister may establish its size.
At least half of the members are to be persons representing the workers who are not connected with the management. The persons representing the workers are to be elected by other workers or appointed in accordance with the constitution of the union of which the workers are members.
The employer shall appoint sufficient employer representatives to ensure that the committee may function.
The employer and worker members of a committee shall elect a co-chair person from their respective groups.
The employer shall post the names of the committee members in a prominent place at the workplace.
A committee:
  • Shall seek to identify aspects of the workplace that may be unhealthy or unsafe;
  • Shall participate in a workplace inspection that an employer is required by the regulations to conduct;
  • May make recommendations to principal contractors, employers, workers, self-employed persons and the assistant deputy minister or an officer for the enforcement of standards to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers at the workplace;
  • Shall receive complaints from workers as to their concerns about the health and safety of the workplace and their welfare;
  • Shall establish and promote health and safety educational programs for workers;
  • Shall maintain records as to the receipt and disposition of complaints received from workers;
  • Shall co-operate with the assistant deputy minister or an officer who is exercising his or her duties under the act; and
  • Shall perform those other duties and follow those procedures that may be prescribed by the regulations.
Meetings of a committee shall take place during regular working hours at least once every 3 months and a worker is not to suffer loss of pay or other benefits while engaged in a meeting of a committee.

Worker Health and Safety Representative

Where less than 10 workers are employed at a workplace, the employer shall ensure that a worker not connected with the management of the workplace is designated as the worker health and safety representative to monitor the health, safety and welfare of workers employed at the workplace.

The worker health and safety representative is to be elected by other workers at the workplace or appointed in accordance with the constitution of the labour union of which the workers are members.
The employer shall post the name of the worker health and safety representative in a prominent place at the workplace.
A worker health and safety representative has the same duties as those imposed upon a committee where that is reasonably practicable.
A worker health and safety representative shall consult with his or her employer while performing his or her duties.

Workplace Health and Safety Designate

Where less than 6 persons are engaged at a workplace and the designation of a worker health and safety representative is impracticable, the employer may designate a workplace health and safety designate to monitor the health, safety and welfare of workers employed at the workplace.
The workplace health and safety designate shall be appointed by the employer. The workplace health and safety designate may be either a worker connected with the management of the workplace; or the employer, if the designation of a worker connected with the management of the workplace is not practicable.
If the assistant deputy minister or an officer is of the opinion that a workplace health and safety designate cannot adequately monitor the health, safety and welfare of workers employed at the workplace, the assistant deputy minister or officer shall order, in writing, that a worker health and safety representative be designated.
The employer shall provide and pay for training for the workplace health and safety designate. The training provided shall meet the requirements that the Workplace Health and Safety Compensation Commission may set. An employer shall compensate a worker for participating in training as if the training were regular work.
The workplace health and safety designate shall participate in the training provided.
The employer shall post the name of the worker health and safety designate in a prominent place at the workplace.
A worker health and safety designate has the same duties as those imposed upon a committee where that is reasonably practicable.
A worker health and safety designate, where the workplace health and safety designate is not the employer, shall consult with his or her employer while performing his or her duties. Where the workplace health and safety designate is the employer, he or she shall consult with the workers while performing his or her duties.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
R.S.N.L. 1990, c. O-3

Section 6 Workers' general duty

6. A worker, while at work, shall take reasonable care to protect his or her own health and safety and that of workers and other persons at or near the workplace.

Section 8 Imminent danger

8. A worker shall not

(a) carry out work where there exists an imminent danger to his or her or another worker's health or safety or the health or safety of another person; or

(b) operate a tool, appliance or equipment that will create an imminent danger to his or her or another worker's health or safety or the health or safety of another person.

Section 37 Committees

37. Where 10 or more workers are employed at a workplace, the employer shall establish an occupational health and safety committee to monitor the health, safety and welfare of the workers employed at the workplace.

[S.N.L. 1999, c. 28, s. 9]

Section 38 Membership of committees

38. (1) A committee shall consist of the number of persons that may be agreed to by the employer and the workers but shall not be less than 2 nor more than 12 persons.

(2) At least half of the members of a committee are to be persons representing the workers at the workplace who are not connected with the management of the workplace.

(3) The persons representing the workers on the committee are to be elected by other workers at the workplace or appointed in accordance with the constitution of the union of which the workers are members.

(4) Where the employer and workers cannot agree on the size of the committee, the minister may establish its size.

(5) The employer shall appoint sufficient employer representatives to ensure that the committee may function.

(6) The employer and worker members of a committee shall elect a co- chairperson from their respective groups.

(7) The employer shall post the names of the committee members in a prominent place at the workplace.

Section 39 Duties of committees

39. A committee established under section 37

(a) shall seek to identify aspects of the workplace that may be unhealthy or unsafe;

(a.1) shall participate in a workplace inspection that an employer is required by the regulations to conduct;

(b) may make recommendations to principal contractors, employers, workers, self-employed persons and the assistant deputy minister or an officer for the enforcement of standards to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers at the workplace;

(c) shall receive complaints from workers as to their concerns about the health and safety of the workplace and their welfare;

(d) shall establish and promote health and safety educational programs for workers;

(e) shall maintain records as to the receipt and disposition of complaints received from workers under paragraph (c);

(f) shall co-operate with the assistant deputy minister or an officer who is exercising his or her duties under the Act; and

(g) shall perform those other duties and follow those procedures that may be prescribed by the regulations.

[S.N.L. 2001, c. 10, s. 29]

Section 40 Meetings of committee

40. Meetings of a committee shall take place during regular working hours at least once every 3 months and a worker is not to suffer loss of pay or other benefits while engaged in a meeting of a committee.

Section 41 Worker representative

41. (1) Where less than 10 workers are employed at a workplace, the employer shall ensure that a worker not connected with the management of the workplace is designated as the worker health and safety representative to monitor the health, safety and welfare of workers employed at the workplace.

(2) The employer shall provide and pay for training for the worker health and safety representative.

(3) The training provided under subsection (2) shall meet the requirements the Workplace Health Safety and Compensation Commission may set.

(4) The worker health and safety representative shall participate in the training provided under this section.

(5) An employer shall compensate a worker for participating in training under this section as if the training were regular work.

[S.N.L. 2001, c. 10, s. 30; 2004, c. 47, s. 27]

Section 42 Election of representative

42. The worker health and safety representative is to be elected by other workers at the workplace or appointed in accordance with the constitution of the labour union of which the workers are members.

Section 43 Posting name

43. The employer shall post the name of the worker health and safety representative or the workplace health and safety designate in a prominent place at the workplace.

[S.N.L. 2004, c. 52, s. 9]

Section 44 Duties of representative

44. (1) A worker health and safety representative or the workplace health and safety designate has the same duties as those imposed upon a committee under section 39, where that is reasonably practicable.

(2) A worker health and safety representative or the workplace health and safety designate, where the workplace health and safety designate is not the employer, shall consult with his or her employer while performing his or her duties under subsection (1).

(3) Where the workplace health and safety designate is the employer, he or she shall consult with the workers while performing his or her duties under subsection (1).

[S.N.L. 2004, c. 52, s. 10]

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2012
N.L.R. 5/12

Part V GENERAL HEALTH AND SAFETY REQUIREMENTS

Section 26 Personal conduct

26. (1) A worker with a medically documented physical or mental impairment shall not be assigned to work where those impairments endanger the health and safety of that worker or other workers.

(2) An employer, supervisor or worker shall not enter or remain on the premises of a workplace or at a job site while his or her ability to perform work responsibilities is impaired by intoxicating substances or another cause that endangers his or her health or safety or that of other workers.

(3) A person shall not engage in horseplay, scuffling, unnecessary running or jumping, practical jokes or other similar activity or behaviour that may create or constitute a hazard to workers.

(4) Before tools, machinery or equipment is put into operation, the person responsible for doing so shall ensure that all guards are in place and that putting the equipment into operation does not endanger a person.

Part VIII MACHINERY AND EQUIPMENT

Section 88 Safe machinery and equipment

88. (1) An employer shall ensure that each tool, machine and piece of equipment in the workplace is

(a) capable of safely performing the functions for which it is used; and

(b) selected, used and operated in accordance with

(i) the manufacturer's recommendations and instructions, where available,

(ii) safe work practices, and

(iii) the requirements of these regulations.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in these regulations, the installation, inspection, testing, repair, maintenance or modification of a tool, machine or piece of equipment shall be carried out

(a) in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions or a standard acceptable to the minister; or

(b) as specified by a professional engineer.

(3) Where equipment or a structure is dismantled in whole or in part and subsequently reassembled, it shall not be used until completely checked and found to be safe for operation or occupancy.

Part XII POWERED MOBILE EQUIPMENT

Section 251 Operation and maintenance

251. (1) Mobile equipment shall be maintained in safe operating condition and operation, inspection, repair, maintenance and modification shall be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions or, in the absence of instructions, as approved by a registered professional engineer.

(2) Servicing, maintenance and repair of mobile equipment shall be done

(a) when the equipment is not in operation; or

(b) when the equipment is in operation, where continued operation is essential to the process and a safe means is provided.

(3) The design, fabrication, use, inspection and maintenance of mobile equipment shall meet the requirements of the following applicable standard or other standards acceptable to the minister:

Table

Equipment Applicable Standard
Mobile and Locomotive Cranes CSA Standard Z150 , "Safety Code for Mobile Cranes"
Vehicles with Mounted Aerial Devices (except fire-fighting equipment) CSA Standard C225 "Vehicle-Mounted Aerial Devices"
Vehicles with Mounted Aerial Devices (fire fighting equipment) NFPA 1911 "Standard for Inspection, Maintenance, Testing and Retirement of In-Service Automotive Fire Apparatus, 2007 Edition"
Safety and Hazard Warnings ISO Standard 9244:1995 "Earth moving machinery - safety signs and hazard pictorials - General principles
Lift Truck and Associated Operator training CSA Standard B335 "Safety Standard for Lift Trucks"

(4) Maintenance and inspection records shall be maintained and made reasonably available to the operator and maintenance personnel during work hours.

(5) Mobile equipment used off maintained roads shall be appropriate and safe for the intended use taking into account factors including the nature of the travel surface and its slope and the activities to be undertaken.

(6) Adequate and approved fire suppression equipment shall be provided where required by the minister.