Work and Substance Abuse Don’t Mix

Substance abuse is an addiction that does not abruptly stop during work hours. If someone has a drug or alcohol problem, it is likely to continue in the workplace, whether it comes in the form of abusing drugs or alcohol on the job, a reduction in productivity or absenteeism from work.

In recent years, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) program, of the 17.4 million illicit drug users, 75 percent of them were employed with either full-time or part-time work. Research also shows that between 10 and 20 percent of the nation’s workers who die on the job test positive for alcohol or other drugs.

Substance abuse can greatly impair reaction time—increasing the risk for workplace accidents. A drug-free workplace can increase productivity, make workplaces safer, and encourage people with alcohol and drug problems to seek help.

Prevention

Employers should be proactive about substance abuse issues in the workplace. The most important part of prevention is to institute a workplace policy on the matter. Employees should be clear on the rules and consequences. From their first day, employees should know that substance abuse will not be tolerated at work.

A substance abuse program will vary from company to company, but it should always address the problem with a written policy. Written policies result in fewer misunderstandings from employees. Remember, substance abuse comes in many forms. Any written policy should include the abuse of alcohol, illegal drugs and inhalants, over-the-counter drugs, and prescription drugs.

Education

Substance abuse is another workplace hazards for employees. During the new employee training, employers should include a section about the company’s policy on substance abuse. Educating your employees about the dangers of substance abuse on the job is just as important as the proper personal protective equipment.

Employees should also learn about the consequences of such actions. These consequences not only include a potential loss of job, but can also affect the rest of the employees at the company by putting them at risk.

It is also important to educate employees about what they should do if they know a fellow employee is using drugs or alcohol on the job. Whether the subject is directed to a human resources representative or someone else, employees need to know there is someone at the company who they can talk with about these potential problems.

Treatment

Prevention and education should not be the only part of company’s substance abuse policy. Policies should also include treatment resources that are available for those who are struggling with a substance abuse problem.

Sometimes providing treatment options can give people the encouragement they need to get help.

Testing

Drug testing is the best way to know whether or not your employees are using illicit drugs or drinking on the job. When instituting a drug-testing policy, employees’ rights should always be taken into consideration.

Some companies, including Texas Mutual, institute pre-employment and reasonable-suspicion testing of all employees, as well as testing for employees who regularly travel on company business. However, when there is a workplace accident, it is imperative for employers to drug test those employees involved as soon as possible to rule out substance abuse as the cause.

Employers should consult an attorney prior to starting drug tests to ensure they are compliant with applicable laws.

Substance abuse has no place on the job. Anything that can impair an employee’s ability to perform his or her job well, and safely, should never be tolerated at work.

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One Response to Work and Substance Abuse Don’t Mix

  1. Definitely a drug free work place helps to increase the productivity. And I am in favor of adopting Drug testing policy.

    Like

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