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An Employer’s Guide to a Drug-Free Workplace

The following is a excerpt from “A Employers Guide to a Drug Free Workplace “from the Florida Division of Workers Compensation.

The entire paper can be read at http://www.myfloridacfo.com/wc/pdf/dfwpman.pdf

 If you are in business, it’s time you know the facts….

The available data continue to indicate that substance abuse has a significant impact in the workplace, with costs estimated at over $100 billion annually. Data show that:

Seventy-one percent of illegal drug users are employed.

Alcoholism causes 500 million lost workdays each year.

Drug and alcohol-related problems are one of the four top reasons for the rise in workplace violence.

Of those who called the cocaine helpline, 75 percent reported using drugs on the job, 64 percent admitted drugs adversely affected their job performance, 44 percent sold drugs to other employees, and 18 percent had stolen from co-workers to support their drug habit.

A study conducted by the Institute for Health Policy, Brandeis University, found substance abuse to be the number one health problem in the country, resulting in more deaths, illnesses, and disabilities than any other preventable health condition. While we do not yet have comprehensive data on the specific impact of workplace substance abuse, the data and studies available are compelling. For example:

Drug-using employees at GM average 40 days sick leave each year compared to 4.5 days for non-users.

Employees testing positive on pre-employment drug tests at Utah Power & Light were 5 times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident than those who tested negative.

The State of Wisconsin estimates that expenses and losses related to substance abuse average 25 percent of the salary of each worker affected. Despite recent news reports about the increased use of drugs, we continue to be encouraged that workplace substance abuse is a problem for which a solution exists. When the issue is addressed by establishing comprehensive programs, it is a “win-win” situation for both employers and employees. The following examples are illustrative.

A study of the economic impact of substance abuse treatment in Ohio found significant improvements in job-related performance:

  •  91 percent decrease in absenteeism;
  • 88 percent decrease in problems with supervisors;
  • 93 percent decrease in mistakes in work; and,
  • 97 percent decrease in on-the-job injury
  • At Southern Pacific railroad, injuries dropped 71 percent.
  • An electric supply company with 150 employees experienced a 39 percent decrease in absenteeism and a 36 percent increase in productivity.
  • A construction company with 60 employees reduced workers’ compensation claims by $50,000.
  • A manufacturer with 560 employees experienced a 30-35 percent decrease in industrial accidents.

Statistics such as these suggest not just that workplace substance abuse is an issue that all employers need to address but also that it is an issue for which there is an answer. Taking steps to identify those with substance abuse problems and offer a helping hand will not only improve worker safety and health but also increase workplace productivity and competitiveness.