In a recent case, an employee in a safety-sensitive position was fired because he was found to be impaired by alcohol. This employee went off the highway on his way to work. The attending police officer smelled alcohol and the employee gave a breath sample that measured .045. In the Canadian jurisdiction in which this took place, this resulted in suspension of his driving license for 24 hours.

This case centered entirely on the employee’s impairment due to alcohol. Yet the employee had acknowledged that he had experienced a night of sleep loss due to an ill child. It is very possible, then, that this employee went off the highway because of sleepiness. Adding even a small amount of alcohol to the equation only exacerbated the level of impairment.

Focusing only on alcohol consumption as the reason for the impairment exposes an organization and its employees to uncontrolled risk. Impairment is impairment is impairment, regardless of the root cause.