Accidents are the result of risky behavior and hazardous environments. Inattention, lack of concentration, over confidence, laziness and fearlessness all contribute to accidents. Involvement in an accident can cause serious injury and death in some cases, both to the person causing the incident or those around the accident. Accidents are considered avoidable if circumstances contributing or leading up to the accident had been acknowledged, avoided and stopped prior to the event. They can be serious and cause injury, suffering and death. Or they can be mild an cause a loss of business, potentially harmful situation or mishap.
Drugs and alcohol contribute significantly to the risk of accident, and impact judgment, perception and reaction times. Problem solving skills are also impaired. Additionally, many people who are under the influence of drugs do not consider the consequences of their actions and behaviors on others, which can place other people at risk of accident. These factors all can contribute to an increase in the risk of being involved in or causing an accident.
Injury is one of many adverse consequences of substance abuse and is often involved in occupational, vehicular or home accidents. Impairments in reaction time, reasoning, coordination, judgment and memory as a result of alcohol or drug use may increase a persons risk of being injured. Some substances such as alcohol, cocaine and MDMA have also been found to make a person willing to take risks and become disinihibited. This can affect the choices they make and the situations that they may become involved in. These situations could be serious and potentially harmful not only to the individual who is under the influence, but also those around them and innocent bystanders. A person who is under the influence of alcohol may decide to take a risk and drive their vehicle, for example. But this dangerous act could contribute to the injury or death of themselves and other motorists or pedestrians.
Employee drug and alcohol misuse or abuse is a problem worldwide. National and international organizations such as the World Health Organization; the Occupational Safety & Health Offices (of the U.S., UK, Canada, etc.); and the International Labor Office (ILO)– recognize the extent of the problem, its negative impact on business and industry, and emphasize the need for drug-free workplace programs. Nearly 75 percent of all adult illicit drug users are employed, as are most binge and heavy alcohol users. This means that in nearly every workplace, there is a chance that there is at least one employee who has a substance abuse problem.
Workplace accidents are a serious public health issue that contributes significantly loss of wages, productivity, medical costs and injury and death rates. It has been estimated that in the United States alone, workplace injury and illnesses cost more than $100 billion annually. Alcohol and drugs are known to contribute to workplace accidents through their impairment on motor skills, memory, perception, coordination and concentration.
Impairment by alcohol or other drugs influences both the risk of a road traffic accident and the severity and outcome of injuries. Statistics show that drunk drivers have a significantly higher risk of being in a crash than drivers who have not consumed any alcohol. In the US, up to 40 percent of all youth road traffic fatalities are directly linked to alcohol. The UK experience shows that in 20 percent of all fatal accidents, the driver was over the limit for alcohol.
Because alcohol and other drugs can cause changes to a persons’ mood, reaction times, skills and concentration, there is a significant impact on a person’s driving performance and decision making when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle. The majority of people who drive when under the influence of drugs or alcohol do not believe that their skills are affected until after they are faced with a challenging or dangerous situation. It is only then that they realize their coordination, ability to think quickly and respond appropriately is impeded.
Substances can influence the risk of accident in the home, especially when dangerous implements, fires, and other people are involved. Involvement in crime can often move from the public sphere to home life and this can add to the risk of accident. When a person is high or drunk, they may do things that are highly dangerous, use implements that can cause injury or pass out and leave stoves and electrical equipment on which could cause fires.
In some cases, individuals may face risk of injury as a result of the manufacturing of drugs like methamphetamine which poses serious health and safety risk. Methamphetamine is manufactured in home-based labs that are hazardous, toxic places with a very high risk of explosion or fires. Methamphetamine is made with easy-to-obtain over-the-counter drugs and other readily available chemicals. These chemicals may include flammable household products such as kerosine, paint thinner, rubbing alcohol and lighter fluid. Corrosive chemicals such as battery acid, drain cleaner, ammonia, fertilizers and phosphorus from matches are also used.
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