Danger to Self

We have an employee who works on a drill press and has seemed kind of "out of it" lately. He does not appear to be intoxicated, just not entirely sharp. He is forgetting things and seems to not be paying attention. We think he might pose a danger to himself when working the press machine, but are not quite sure how to address this issue with him. He has an excellent work history, and no known issues with drugs or alcohol. We do not want to invade his privacy, but we do feel the need to make sure he is fit to operate the drill press.

 Any pointers?


  • 4 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • It seems to me it would be appropriate to express your concerns to him (but playing up his excellent work history) and say you just wanted to make sure everything was OK. It might at least give him a wake-up call...
  • I agree with giambino's advice.  I would be sure to justify asking your question by specifically mentioning the actual performance issues you or others have been witnessing--forgetting things, etc.  Be sure to be as specific as possible and be doubly sure to keep your concerns related to his performance--not speculation on any possible reasons why it may be happening. If he has a reason for the behavior that he wants to share with you, that's another situation, but just make sure your comments to him are just about the performance.
  • I agree. There could be alot of reasons for the way he is acting including health, relationship problems, boredom, a second job, lack of sleep, and the list goes on. The issue is his performance.
  • Don't allow the employee to operate dangerous machinery. Have the manager say to the employee, "You obviously don't feel well today.  Maybe you shouldn't be working on the drill press." It might be wise to have another witness to this conversation.   If the employee insists he's fine, have the manager send the employee to HR or nurse, if you have one.

    You can tell the employee the manager feels he is not fit for duty on the press and explain why. Stick to the facts (trembling hands) and don't make a diagnosis or mention drugs--this could lead to a union grievance or lawsuit.  State that the manager and the company are concerned about his health and personal safety.

    Now go by what is said. If he says he is sick, offer transportation home (if the employee is impaired, you don't want him driving or walking to the bus).  If he says he is fine, assign him to a less dangerous job for the rest of the day.

    If he does allude to a drug problem, give him the number of your EAP.

    Document all the facts including job performance, but don't put any suspicions of alcohol or drug use into writing. Try not to discuss the problem with anyone other than the immediate superior or authorized company official.

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