Are you noticing an increase in absenteeism by some workers on the job site, more workplace injuries, less productivity and mood swings among certain employees? If so, you may be among the many businesses in this country that are feeling the effects of the rampant opioid epidemic.
Nobody wants to believe that their employees are abusing drugs, but the statistics are alarming:
- According to a 2017 survey conducted by the National Safety Council, 70 percent of employers reported that their business has been affected by prescription drug use.
- According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, drug abuse alone costs workplaces $130 billion in lost productivity.
- In 2016, large employers spent $2.6 billion on treating opioid abuse and overdoses, the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker found.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show that 217 workers died from drug or alcohol overdose while at work in 2016, up 32 percent from 2015.
- Since 2010 overdose deaths at work have increased by 25 percent or more each year. These numbers don’t include overdoses that don’t end in death. They also don’t reflect incidents where drug use by an employee contributed to injury or death of others in the workplace.
Are employers prepared?
A recent New York Times article questions whether employers are adequately addressing opioid use in the workplace. According to the Times, based on interviews with 501 managers at businesses with 50 or more employees conducted by the National Safety Council, fewer than one in five companies felt “extremely well-prepared” to address the crisis. Just 13 percent of employers said they could identify risky behavior in their employees. Only half of the employers interviewed screen all employees for drugs. (Read the entire article here.)
The Times piece only confirms what we, at TSS, have known for a long time: That regular and reliable drug screening is essential to maintaining a safe work environment for everyone. Screening is a critical tool in confronting drug use among employees, preventing accidents, decreasing absenteeism and increasing productivity. It is also the first step in helping employees with a problem get the help they need.
Knowledge is also power in the battle against on-the-job drug use. Being able to spot risky behavior before an accident can mean the difference between life and death. Our goal is to arm employers with the knowledge they need to battle drug use in their business by offering a variety of professional development trainings devoted to dealing with drug use at work including our Reasonable Suspicion Training for Supervisors course.
Through a quality drug screening program, and with increased awareness of the impact of drug abuse on the workplace, employers have the opportunity to be proactive in keeping their employees safe and healthy.