Every year, drug use negatively affects the manufacturing industry. Drug abuse causes low productivity, accidents, and injuries in the workplace, employee absenteeism, and lowered morale. All of these things are a drain on companies; they lose billions of dollars due to their employees’ drug abuse.
Research shows the manufacturing industry has been hit particularly hard by drug abuse problems. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) recently provided their latest report on drug abuse and its effects on the workplace. They gathered information from surveys of adults in a number of fields in the years 2008 through 2012. From 2008 to 2012, the manufacturing industry saw heavy alcohol use among almost 10 percent of adults aged 18 to 64 employed full time. When it came to illicit drugs, over 7 percent of adults aged 18 to 64 employed full time reported use of these illegal drugs. And, when it comes to abuse, over 9 percent of adults aged 18 to 64 employed full time in the manufacturing industry reported abusing either alcohol or drugs.
Effects on productivity
Drug abuse is causing companies to incur many costs which could be avoided. Drug abuse is also transforming work environments into a far more dangerous place than they should be. When manufacturing employees abuse drugs, productivity is affected. Alcohol abuse, the use of illicit drugs, and drug use disorders are all associated with negative work behaviors. This includes things like heavy absenteeism, frequent job changes, poor morale, and even injury due to neglecting best practices. When workers show up to work under the influence, not only does the worker undermine the company’s operational ability, he or she can also endanger the lives of coworkers.
This is because drug abuse can negatively influence a person’s mental and physical capabilities, causing them to underperform at their jobs. In manufacturing, this can mean the operation of heavy tools or machinery—tasks which are already dangerous can become deadly.
Workplace drug abuse on the rise
Unfortunately, drug abuse within the manufacturing industry has increased over the years. Today, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that 70% of those who abuse drugs are employed. According to Quest Diagnostics, a company which performs millions of pre-employment drug tests each year says that in 2016, 4.2 percent of all urine tests came back positive, which is an increase from 4.0 percent in 2015. They say this is the highest rate they’ve seen since 2004’s 4.5 percent.
Additionally, Quest reports the positivity rate for cocaine in post-accident urine drug tests was more than twice that of pre-employment drug tests. The results were also higher than the rate in random drug tests which employers utilize to find drug abuse among their staff.
Quest notes cannabis use is on the rise as well. Positive oral drug tests increased by almost 75 percent, rising to 8.9 percent in 2016. This was up from 5.1 percent in 2013. Researchers attribute these increases to the legalization of marijuana (in some states) as a recreational drug.
Drug testing programs
Identifying drug use on the job isn’t as easy as it sounds. Many individuals who are on drugs rarely admit to it and are often very good at hiding the problem. There are some precautions an employer can take, however.
A program that includes pre-employment, random, post-accident, and reasonable suspicion drug testing can help companies avoid hiring those with drug abuse problems and weed out existing drug users who are currently employed with them. Drug testing has actually become widespread in the manufacturing industry. It can help prevent a number of problems.
Drug testing should not be looked at as a weapon that works against employees, but as a tool which can ensure a safe working environment for everyone. Utilizing drug testing options can help both a companies’ bottom lines and the safety of all who work there.