Health & Safety Institute Blog

January 25, 2018

Substance Abuse in the Workplace: What Employers Need to Know

Substance abuse and its impact on the American workplace continues to be a growing problem. What can employers do to help prevent workplace emergencies related to on-the-job drug and alcohol use?

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse explains that:

Alcohol and drug use among employees and their family members can be an expensive problem for business and industry, with issues ranging from lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries, fatalities, theft and low employee morale, to an increase in health care, legal liabilities and workers' compensation costs.

  • Workers who report having three or more jobs in the previous five years are about twice as likely to be current or past year users of illegal drugs as those who have had two or fewer jobs.
  • 70% of the estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs are employed.
  • Marijuana is the most commonly used and abused illegal drug by employees, followed by cocaine, with prescription drug use steadily increasing.

One common response is to implement a drug testing program in the workplace. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a 6-step procedure for building a customized plan to establish a drug-free workplace initiative:

  1. Assess your workplace and its needs related to substance use.
  2. Identify available resources.
  3. Develop a written policy for your drug-free workplace.
  4. Determine whether to have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
  5. Determine whether to do drug testing.
  6. Plan to provide education and training for your employees and additional training for supervisors and other appropriate staff.

Training your employees and supervisors

Summit’s workplace safety library includes several courses designed to help employers navigate a drug-free workplace environment, including:

DOT: Drug & Alcohol Testing Employee - Complies with DOT 49 CFR Part 40
Educates employees on their role in maintaining a drug-and alcohol-free workplace.

DOT: Drug & Alcohol Testing Supervisor  - Complies with DOT 49 CFR Part 40
Trains supervisors on their responsibilities in creating and maintaining a drug- and alcohol-free workplace.

Drug Testing Awareness
Provides important information about the ill effects of drugs and alcohol on an employee’s ability to work successfully and productively.

Learn more about the Summit library of over 300 online courses by clicking the button below.

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