Recently, we wrote about how burnout can potentially contribute to increased workplace injuries. Following the same theme of workplace safety, maintaining a drug and alcohol-free workplace can also mitigate risk of unsafe employees. According to the Department of Labor, drug and alcohol abuse accounts for up to 65% of on-the-job accidents. This naturally contributes to a higher percentage of worker’s compensation claims being relating to drugs or alcohol in the workplace.
There are several components that contribute to a safe, drug and alcohol-free environment. Employers need to have a comprehensive drug testing program, which includes pre-employment as well as random drug testing and post-accident drug testing, as applicable. Additionally, having a new employee consent to random drug testing when they are hired protects you down the road if the need arises. So, the question becomes: when does an employer perform random drug testing?
This brings up reasonable suspicion. If someone is potentially under the influence, drug testing becomes a matter of workplace safety, particularly if the job involves heavy machinery or lifting and carrying. We recommend looking into the guidelines set up by the Society of Human Resource Management. They have categorized reasonable suspicion into three primary areas: physical, behavioral, and psychological. It’s significant for the employer to document all changes in these areas and include witnesses, whenever possible. It may be that you received a complaint from another employee who has observed erratic behavior, slurred speech, or decreased performance and lack of focus. Even if you aren’t sure, document anyway.
Why are we talking about this? Drug testing programs decrease worker’s compensation claims by up to nearly 50% in some organizations. This is real incentive for a drug-free workplace. In addition, should an injury occur, it’s less likely to be drug-related, and there is a higher return-on-investment in getting an employee back to work. The safer your employees are on the job, the more smoothly your business can run.
Peak Form Medical Clinic offers occupational medicine services and can assist employers with implementing a comprehensive drug testing program. Contact our Brighton office at 303-655-9005 or Boulder at 303-402-9283 for more information.