“Drugs in the Workplace” at RIMS 2009

by Emily Holbrook on April 22, 2009 · 1 comment

Drugs such as ecstasy are commonly abused by employees across all industries.

Drugs such as ecstasy are commonly abused by employees across all industries.

Lost productivity costs employers $197 billion a year, according to the U.S. Government. One of the major reasons for lost productivity is drugs in the workplace. Drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace is also a constant threat to company liability and workers comp costs. Darryl Hammann, director of disability and absence services for Sedgwick Claims Management Services, revealed an alarming fact during his session this morning: 76% of people with drug and alcohol problems are employed.

What this means is that more than likely, one or more of your employees or coworkers is lacking in productivity due to the fact that they are currently under the influence or recovering from being under the influence the night before (just hours before arriving to work). This, as one might assume, can have an enormous impact on workers comp costs as employees with drug abuse problems are four times more likely to have an on-the-job injury.      

Additional costs include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased healthcare costs
  • The fact that other workers suffer
  • Effects on the relatives of the employee
  • Increase in absenteeism
  • Increase in workplace theft

To combat the effects of drugs in the workplace, the panelists proclaimed that companies should implement drug education programs and/or pre-employment, random or post-accident drug testing policies. 

Jeff Brody, director of safety and loss control for Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of New York, said it comes down to three things when working to combat drug abuse in the workplace: educate, prevent and promote. 

“Post accident drug testing is not the magic bullet, but it is certainly another weapon ready for use in your workers comp arsenal,” said Gisele Posey, senior director of workers comp and loss prevention for Kindred Healthcare.

With companies striving to stay alive in these economic times, drug abuse in the workplace is one thing managers should not have to worry about, but unfortunately, it is an epidemic. An epidemic that doesn’t take into account whether other employees are struggling to pick up the slack of a drug abuser, or whether the company is operating in the red, or whether workers comp claims will push their struggling company over the edge. 

Drug and alcohol abuse is a societal problem that will never completely go away. How is your company facing this issue?

Emily Holbrook is the executive managing editor for National Underwriter Life & Health and the former editor of the Risk Management Monitor and Risk Management magazine. You can read more of her writings at EmilyHolbrook.com.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

kim August 8, 2011 at 6:18 am

great topic, Emily! Drug abuse can really cause many problems in the workplace. To combat the effects of drugs in the workplace, all organizations should implement pre-employment, random or post-accident dot drug testing policies. You’re right, this drug abuse problem will never completely go away. I totally agree with you!

Leave a Comment