What does it mean to the employer to have employees who are drug free? Does it mean the employee is reliable and trustworthy? For most employers this is a very serious situation and having a drug free workplace cuts back on absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover, theft morale and most importantly productivity. There are certain characteristics and benefits to having a drug free workplace. Unfortunately, there are many employees who are working in the United States that are abusing drugs on the job and the numbers may surprise you.
United States Workforce and the Drug Abusers in it
Illicit drugs and prescription drugs are being abused every day on the job in the United States of America. Why worry about drugs in the workplace? Because more than 70 percent of substance abusers hold jobs, this means one worker in four, ages 18 to 34 used drugs or is using drugs in the past year, and one worker in three know of drug use and sales in the workforce. As an employer this means that the problems of these substance abusers become your problem one way or another. They increase the risk of accidents; raise insurance cost, lower productivity and worst of all reduce profits. What employer can afford to reduce their profits? What employer can afford to lose money? It is proven that drug abusers are ten times more likely to miss work, 3.6 times more likely to be involved in on the job accidents, five times more likely to have a worker's compensation claim and 33% less productive and have health care costs that are three times higher than your average employee. Substance abusers are five times more likely to cause injuries and they are also responsible for 40 percent of all industrial fatalities ("American Council for Drug Educators", 1999). Unfortunately, these workers will increase the work loads of others, compromise productivity and product quality and may ruin a company's image.
Employers may look the other way, but there is no way around the fact that every employer must deal with the issues that come with drug abusers. The fact that drug abusers cost the employers money every day, should open the eyes of the employers to put a drug free program in place for their employees. Knowing the risk involved with having drug abusers working for a company, should help ensure a good drug program. What is the importance of a drug free workplace and were does the employer begin to establish a drug- free workplace? It all begins with the type of program that the employer wants to establish from training, education, and drug testing and understanding why the policies are in place. In a drug free workplace, the employer has taken steps and initiated policies to ensure that the employee is not taken drugs at work or outside of the workplace during non- working hours.