Safety & HCM Post

Warn Workers of Dangers of Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs

A report from the city of Jeffersonville, IN, into a fatal five-vehicle collision reveals that a city employee who was involved had taken two prescription drugs for back pain before starting his shift.

A garbage packer truck struck a small car driven by a 19-year-old woman, causing her death. She had stopped her vehicle in a road construction zone when the truck crashed into it. Three other vehicles were involved and three people were taken to hospital.

The report states that the garbage packer driver had taken Lortab and Flexeril for back pain. Both drugs contain warnings about operating machinery or driving. Lortab can cause light-headedness, dizziness, sleepiness, impaired thinking and impaired physical abilities, while Flexeril can cause dizziness.

The driver told police he had not seen three orange road work signs placed between 1,500 and 900 feet ahead of a flagger. The garbage packer hit the stopped car at about 35 miles per hour.

Back pain, allergies and other medical conditions, including colds and flus, are often treated with prescription and over-the-counter medications. The side effects of some of these common medications can include drowsiness and slow or impaired functioning, which ultimately can lead to a workplace injury or even a fatality.

Schedule a safety meeting with your workers to remind them of the side effects and potential dangers of working while taking these medications. Be sure to stress the importance of reading labels, alerting supervisors to medication use, taking medications as prescribed and, if necessary, canceling their shift.

Use this Safety Talk on SafetyNow, Everyday Drugs Can Cause Accidents or this article,Medications Can be Wrong Prescriptions for Safety in your meeting.

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