Helping Businesses Benefit from Being Drug
Workplace drug and alcohol abuse clearly compromises
the safety of the workforce and the public by contributing to accidents and
workplace injuries. But when employees abuse alcohol and other drugs, many other
aspects of a business's operation, including its bottom line, bear the burden.
Some costs-increased absences, accidents and errors-are obvious. Others, such as
low morale and high illness rates, are less so, but the effects are equally
harmful. The vast majority of drug users work, and when they arrive at work,
they don't leave their problems outside the door.
Consider the following:
- Out of 13.4 million illicit drug users aged 18 or
older in 2001, 10.2 million (76.4 percent) worked either full or part
- Between 10 and 20 percent of the nation's workers
who die on the job test positive for alcohol or other drugs.
- Nearly 77 percent (10.7 million) of illicit drug users use
marijuana.3 Six out of every 10
workers who test positive for drug use test positive for
- Industries with the highest rates of drug use
include many of the same industries at high-risk of occupational injuries,
such as construction, mining, manufacturing and wholesale.
The good news is that employers have enormous power
to improve the safety and health of their workplaces by implementing drug-free
workplace programs. Educating employees about the dangers of alcohol and drug
abuse and encouraging individuals with alcohol and drug problems to seek help
also adds value to their businesses and communities. Many employers integrate
drug-free workplace components into their overall safety programs and find it
key to reducing on-the-job accidents and injuries.
A comprehensive drug-free workplace program generally
includes five elements: a policy, supervisor training, employee education,
employee assistance and drug testing. Although employers may choose not to
include all five components, it is recommended that all be explored. Research
shows that more components may lead to a more effective program.
Before considering each element, employers should
examine the needs of their workforce and business to ensure the program they
design will fit their company. Because every business is unique, there is no one
right way to establish a program. A careful assessment will determine which
elements are the most feasible and beneficial, as well as which may be
unnecessary or unsuitable. Many companies find it helpful to seek employee input
during this process.
not required by OSHA, drug-free workplace programs are natural complements to
other initiatives that help ensure safe and healthful workplaces and add value
to American businesses and communities.
1 National Household
Survey on Drug Abuse (2001)
2 Analysis of Toxicology Reports Work-Related
Fatal Injuries in 1998 (forthcoming)
3 National Household Survey on Drug
4 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (2001)
Household Survey on Drug Abuse (2001)
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the
Assistant Secretary for Policy www.dol.gov./asp