Employers need trustworthy employees who can perform their agreed-upon duties without personal issues causing disruption. Drugs in the workplace can negatively impact employee performance, personal health, and workplace safety. Establishing and maintaining a drug-free workplace through the development of expected and supportive policies and procedures, can boost your business by attracting preferable employees to help the organization grow without the costs and distractions often associated with drugs in the workplace.
American employees are in crisis. A National Safety Council (NSC) study in 2019 found that employees are more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than a motor vehicle crash. Opioids are often prescribed to effectively manage pain following an accident or operation, but they often cause addiction, mental and physical impairment. When a painkiller is prescribed to treat a specific, short-term condition, it can cause drowsiness and slowed reaction times. In cases where the drug is used to treat chronic or long-term pain, additional side effects such as cravings, difficulty fulfilling obligations, mood swings, uncontrollable use, withdrawal, and even overdose can occur, posing safety concerns from multiple angles.
Employees who abuse narcotics have higher absenteeism rates and are more likely to lose their jobs, compounding emotional and economic hardships that can make addiction even worse. Employers and supervisors should be on the lookout for physical signs of impairment such as an inability to focus, irritability, slurring, stumbling, and sudden mood shifts.
The most important step that employers can take to protect their employees is to ensure a safe work environment where employees are not prone to injury and thus can avoid an opioid prescription to manage pain. In addition to workplace safety, it is important to invest in a high-quality employee assistance program (EAP), provide on-site training, and educate employees about effective treatment and recovery options.
There are many factors to consider when enforcing a drug-free workplace program. First and foremost is the creation of a written workplace policy regarding the expectations around alcohol and drug abuse. With a documented policy that aligns with all labor laws, it is easier to respond to calls of discriminatory enforcement. Managers and supervisors must then be trained and informed of this policy, including learning the signs of workplace drug use and the protocols in place for handling any confrontation of an employee's suspected drug use.
In addition to employers, managers, and supervisors, employees also need to feel included in the process of enforcing a drug-free policy at work. Keeping employees informed helps them understand the health and safety risks involved. Proper education and training helps employees understand the negative financial impact to the organization from decreased productivity and increased healthcare costs. Drug-free posters, employee message boards, meetings, and newsletters can help reinforce the policies put in place.
Creating a sympathetic and genuine interest in helping a valued employee struggling with addiction is just as essential as forbidding drug use. Offering relevant education, counseling, and other wellness resources allows employees to address and prevent substance abuse issues. Investment in your employees at this level is often more cost-effective than the termination and re-hiring process. Further, workplace drug testing can act as a deterrent for employees considering drug use. It can help them weigh the risk versus reward and make the best decision for their career.
Implementing a drug-free workplace policy and investing in your employees provides a beneficial work environment and helps your bottom line. When customers, employees, supervisors, and vendors are all informed about your organization’s policy, it inspires compliance that leads to a happier, healthier, and safer workplace for everyone. If you have any questions about narcotic dependence and its effect on the workplace, contact Trinity Urgent Care Occupational Health today. We are here to help you avoid narcotic dependence and work toward the most productive atmosphere possible.
Important Notice: If your emergency occurs after regular business hours, please visit your nearest emergency room. For life threatening injury or illness, call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room.