October 12, 2021

The Case for a Drug-Free Workplace

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Between monitoring machinery operation and evaluating office hazards, you’re always on the lookout for safety threats. Increasingly more common however, are the unseen workplace risks posed by drug and alcohol abuse. Illicit substances threaten the safety of employees across industries, which makes it critical for companies to prioritize a drug-free workplace.

“Businesses can promote and implement proactive measures to combat the infiltration of drugs and alcohol in the workplace. At LWCC we’re dedicated to helping Louisiana thrive, which means prioritizing a safe workplace culture. This includes an awareness of and a plan to mitigate substance abuse,” said Damian Simoneaux, LWCC Safety Services Manager.

Drugs Put Employees at Risk

Research from the Nationwide Medical Review revealed that more than a third of injured employees had used marijuana just a few hours before their injury. The research also showed that 16.5 percent of seriously injured employees had been smoking marijuana as well as drinking alcohol before their injury.

Recognizing the signs of drug and alcohol abuse are the first steps in employee safety¹:

  • Fatigue
  • Unexpected bursts of energy
  • Paranoia
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Slow or slurred speech
  • Frequent unexplained absences
  • Smelling like alcohol or marijuana

Drugs Cost Your Business

Bad habits, low morale, and poor productivity are just a few of the surface-level reasons why drugs negatively influence workplace culture. Perhaps even worse, when drug use is prevalent among employees, the costs add up. Experience and statistics show that employee use of drugs and alcohol increase the odds of an injury, which can create costly problems for employers.

In fact the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that employees who abuse drugs acquire 300 percent higher medical costs and benefits which consequently increases health insurance rates. In addition, statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration show that illicit drug users are five times more likely to file a workers’ comp claim. Another U.S. Chamber of Commerce study illustrates that as much as $100 billion a year are diverted from legitimate businesses to buy illegal drugs. That’s a whopping 2.5 percent of GNP and 8 percent of discretionary spending.

But those are just the direct costs. Indirect costs to your business come in other forms. Studies conducted by the National Institute on Drug Addiction show that employees who are substance abusers will function at just 67 percent of his or her capacity. Employees who use drugs are also three times more likely to be late for work and two and a half times more likely to have absences of eight or more days, reports the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The study suggests that substance abusers have a collective absentee rate between 30-35 days per year.

The Benefits of a Drug-Free Program

Costly medical and social problems add up as the misuse of alcohol and drugs affects U.S. workers and employers. A comprehensive drug-free program offers a solution; creating a safer workplace for all and even reducing productivity losses.

The Nationwide Medical Review suggests seven transformative benefits of promoting a drug-free culture in the workplace:

  • Reduce operational costs
  • Preserve investor or shareholder interests
  • Protect loyal employees
  • Improve products and services
  • Result in better service to customers and clients
  • Increase profits
  • Help many people lead healthier lives

“A drug-free policy can assist in reducing accidents in addition to errors from poor quality or service,” said Simoneaux. “The establishment of a drug-free environment supports superior employee performance which results in the saving of both time and money.”

About National Drug-Free Work Week

LWCC stands with the National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance, a division of Drug-Free America Foundation, to promote the annual observance of National Drug-Free Work Week from October 12 - 16. The National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance offers assistance and resources to help employers ensure their workplace is fostering a strong drug-free workplace culture.

Access more resources and statistics here.

LWCC Safety Services

LWCC is committed to a safe and productive work environment. A variety of safety resources are available to our policyholders free of charge including online training sessions, educational videos, and more. LWCC policyholders can cultivate a culture of safety by reaching out to our experienced team of Consultants on Call for recommendations and assistance. 

¹ Kathleen Smith, PhD, LPC for PsyCom

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