The use of drugs and alcohol in the workplace has long been a concern for employers nationwide. Aside from poor work performance and unreliability, workers under the influence of drugs and alcohol can become reckless or complacent, jeopardizing their safety and the safety of their co-workers.
According to the National Workplace Drug Free Alliance, drug use in the workplace costs this country billions of dollars every year in lost productivity. Both alcohol and drug abuse have been linked to absenteeism, accidents and injuries at work, not to mention the established link between substance abuse and both workplace harassment and violence.
Here are some key things employers should look for when trying to identify these types of workplace issues.
Poor work quality
High absenteeism rate
Increased accident/near miss
Theft of equipment/materials or others personal belongings
Slowed reaction time/delayed decision making skills
Easily fatigued/sleeping on the job
Slow learner/easily loses concentration
Trouble with law enforcement
Aggressive towards others
While it may be challenging to protect your organization from the effects associated with drug and alcohol use and abuse, it is a very important part of any organization’s safety program. Establishing a comprehensive drug and alcohol program can be a powerful tool in helping to prevent these workplace issues.
For employees, an effective program provides company-specific information and details of the company’s policy. Employees should be trained on the process for reporting suspected drug and alcohol abuse, including possession, manufacturing, or sale on company premises. All employees should be required to participate in this type of training upon hire and at least annually thereafter.
Janet Byers is a workplace wellness expert. She leads PMA’s corporate-wide Wellness Group, which provides clients with guidance on developing and implementing programs to integrate safety and wellness into all organizational levels.