Why Worry About Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace?


Posted by: Steve Uslabar, Strategic Risk Advisor

Last week, I was asked a question about drugs in the workplace. After discussing this issue, I reflected on how drug and alcohol abuse are not only societal problems, but they also pose a significant risk to employers. Drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace has been documented to negatively impact business due to the increased risk of accidents and the loss of productivity. You are in a competitive business; your profits are at risk! What’s worse, you may not even know that there is problem.

For example, I recently learned of a manager who discovered that one of his employees was distributing marijuana off the company loading dock. Later, he learned that other employees knew about this drug dealing activity. It’s common for employees to look the other way because they don’t want to jeopardize a co-worker’s job. Unfortunately, drugs are woven into the fabric of our society. Some of your best employees may have a problem, now or in the future.

Contemplate your policy on drugs and alcohol, and consider the following:

• 70% of drug abusers have jobs.

• Substance abusers are 10 times more likely to call in sick and miss work.

• Substance abusers are more than 3 times more likely to be involved a workplace accident.

• Substance abusers are 5 times more likely to file a workers compensation claim.

• Substance abusers are 33% less productive than non-using co-workers.

• Substance abusers are responsible for medical costs 3 times as high as others over time.

Does your drug and alcohol policy protect you both from financial risk and unnecessary turnover? Do you offer your employees the chance to seek rehabilitation through your Employee Assistance Program, or is it one strike and you’re out? The latter may someday force you to sever a relationship with a valued employee, so consider your options carefully.

Finally, what’s the last time you encouraged your employees to “just say NO!” If you would like help writing or reviewing a drug and alcohol policy to help mitigate risk, please contact me at 920-886-3443.