Last updated: September 14, 2020
Drug use in the workplace can be costly for employers in more ways than one. Companies lose money due to low productivity, chronic absenteeism, and poor performance when there is substance abuse among their workforce. Yet, even more, costly are the losses they face due to injuries. The impairment caused by substance abuse can result in accidents and injuries to both themselves as well as their coworkers. So how can companies combat the cost and danger associated with substance abuse among their employees? The answer is implementing a workplace drug testing policy.
A well-implemented drug policy and employee testing can result in many benefits to your company, both regarding safety as well as the company’s bottom line. Some of the most important benefits of drug testing in the workplace include:
Substance abuse is linked to many workplace-related injuries and fatalities. OSHA estimates show that 10 to 20% of all deaths in the workforce are related to substance abuse with 40% of all industrial fatalities being caused by substance abusers. Substance abuse not only affects the user, but the safety of their co-workers as well since substance abuse can decrease reaction times and reduce cognitive abilities.
Substance abuse is linked to a decrease in productivity with an estimated loss of $100 billion annually due to unrealized productivity. Abusers tend to perform less efficiently and have a limited output compared to their sober counterparts. Implementing company-wide drug testing can not only reduce the amount of downtime due to injury but can also increase overall productivity.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, it is reported that while 70% of substance abusers are employed, workers who have had three or more jobs within the past five years are two times more likely to be substance abusers than those who have had two or less. Having pre-employment drug testing can reduce the risk of turn-over and save a company a significant investment that will be put in time and training for workers who are likely to leave or be terminated shortly after hiring.
Chronic absenteeism is a common problem with employees who are substance abusers. They may often call in for illness due to hangovers, withdrawals, use, or even cravings. Sometimes substance abusers will fail to show up to work repeatedly causing problems with scheduling and delays in production start times.
Employees who are substance abusers can cost the company more for healthcare due to rehabilitation and substance abuse treatment as well as poor health conditions and emergency room visits that can be associated with substance abuse problems. Having a drug testing program and policy is part of promoting a healthy workplace environment, and it will be reflected in reduced healthcare costs linked to substance abuse and its effects.
Substance abuse does not only affect the user and the company, but it affects other workers as well. Chronic absenteeism and tardiness can create problems or more work for co-workers and problems with alertness and productivity can affect the job completion and safety of other employees that work with them. Implementing a drug testing program in the workplace will not only reduce substance abuse in the workplace but it will help to increase employee morale as they will begin to feel safer and less like they are carrying other employees due to abuse problems.
A well-implemented drug program and workplace testing policy can benefit any company through a reduction in costs due to lost time, workplace accidents, and lessened productivity as well as a promote a healthy workplace environment for all employees.