5 steps to understand the nature of the employee’s lack of alertness and the subsequent actions that can be taken.

Step One

Before approaching the employee, a Supervisor should take a moment to ensure the employee is in the right frame of mind for a discussion. Supervisors can:

  • Note if they are harboring any pre-determined attitudes that may block problem solving.
  • Realize that the employee may already have a reasonable solution to the issue if they are asked.
  • Maintain their leadership position and be prepared to make decisions required to keep the employee safe.

Step Two

Hold the discussion in a private setting.


Step Three

The Supervisor should ask the employee if they are aware that the alertness test score was lower than normal. The Supervisor should assure the employee that they are not being accused of wrongdoing, and that the reason for the discussion is to make sure the employee is in a safe state of mind to proceed to work. Tell the employee that the conversation is confidental, but that they are not required to disclose personal information to the Supervisor.


Step Four

Ask the employee if they are aware of why they may have scored low on the test.

  • If the employee states they are not feeling well or this is otherwise apparent, refer the employee to seek medical attention. The employee is not required to disclose the underlying medical condition to the Supervisor.
  • If the employee states that they are emotionally distracted by problems such as relationship difficulties, financial worries, or other personal issues, ask the person if there is anything immediate and reasonable that can be done to help them refocus on the work at hand. This might include making a phone call or taking half a day off to deal with a personal crisis. The judgment of the supervisor will be required to determine what kind of accommodations are necessary and appropriate to keep the employee and others safe.
  • Upon personal observation, if the Supervisor has reasonable suspicion that the employee may be exhibiting signs of alcohol or drug impairment, the Supervisor should follow the guidelines put forth by company policy on proceeding to the next step of their Reasonable Suspicion process for drug and alcohol testing.
  • If the employee states they are tired or distracted but they feel they can “pull it together” and the Supervisor agrees, the Supervisor should check back with the employee to make sure that they were able to focus and are now alert. The employee may also be asked to take the Pivot test again after an hour or two.
  • If the employee is unaware of any reason why they might have scored low on the test, the Supervisor should use their judgment in concluding the conversation and allowing the employee to continue to work.


Step Five

The Supervisor should use their judgment in alignment with company policies. Companies can discuss possible scenarios with their Supervisors and identify reasonable adjustments ahead of time regarding consequences that can be delivered to support Supervisors’ decisions and execution of company policy to maintain a safe work environment.