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How to Document Reasonable Suspicion of Impairment

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Documenting reasonable suspicion of impairment in the workplace is becoming increasingly vital to ensuring workplace safety and productivity.

Impairment at work may lead to decreased overall morale and productivity, absenteeism, injuries, fatalities, workplace theft and increased turnover. In addition, this type of conduct leads to increased liability risks for employers, as well as possible increases in health care and workers' compensation costs.

Documenting reasonable suspicion of impairment can be used to corroborate drug test results, especially in cases where the drug test may not conclusively prove impairment at the time of test administration (e.g., marijuana or cannabidiol use).

Employers should consider training supervisors, managers and HR personnel on:

  • Recognizing signs of impairment; and
  • Properly documenting those signs when present.

Documenting reasonable suspicion of impairment should be undertaken whenever:

  • A supervisor, manager or HR has observed directly that something is amiss (e.g., involvement in a workplace incident or accident resulting in property damage);
  • An employer receives a report from a worker regarding possible impairment or drug or alcohol use; or
  • The employer receives a complaint from a customer or vendor.

An employer's designee (i.e., supervisor, manager or HR professional) should directly observe the employee and environment and ensure that any information is properly documented.

To document reasonable suspicion of impairment observations, an employer should take the following steps.