Owing to the stressful and demanding nature of construction jobs, it is no wonder the escalating cases of drug abuse on the job site. However, having workers on duty while under the influence is nothing to be taken lightly. Not only does the worker undermine a business’s operational ability but also endangers the lives of other co-workers. Precisely, drug taking influences a worker’s mental and physical capabilities in a manner that they are not able to perform at their full potential. Furthermore, activities such as welding, working with power tools and operating heavy machinery, which are already dangerous for a sober person can be extremely dreadful for an individual on drug abuse.
Unfortunately, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 70% of Americans who abuse drugs are employed. Existence of such individuals at workplaces without control brings about serious problems like injuries, loss of productivity and road accidents. In order to combat drug abuse among employees, there are numerous precautions an employer can assume. On the contrary, identifying drug use on the job site isn’t as simple as one might think. Individuals on drug addiction rarely admit to their problems and are often in denial, which makes it harder to approach them.
Drug testing as one of the precautions has become widespread in the construction industry. Many employers are now aware of the ripple effects that can result from substance abuse by an employee. Prevention of such problems is commonly done by implementing a workplace drug program that encompasses random drug testing before hiring and during employment.
Drug abuse does not necessarily have to involve consumption of illegal drugs. Taking the case of opiate abuse, which is a common painkiller in the construction industry, the effects are just similar to those of any other damaging drug. Opiates are majorly used by construction workers because of the demanding nature of their work in terms of physical injuries. Opiates in this case act as pain medication after surgeries following extreme cases of physical harm to the body.
Clearly, drug abuse is having a dramatic effect in offices, stores, factories, and public facilities. It is causing enterprises to incur avoidable costs and transforming the work environment into a far more dangerous place to work in. Due to the serious nature of this threat, both workers and employers are forced to undertake precautions at all times. Usually, addicts exhibit various signs that suggest he/she is overindulging in drugs. The most notable signs of drug abuse include:
- Increased absenteeism at the workplace- construction workers under the influence of drugs are highly likely to come to work late or not come at all. These individuals tend to misuse their sick days in an disorderly manner such as missing work Monday, Friday or after receiving their salaries.
- Lost productivity- drug abuse often leads to lack of focus and coordination on important issues, especially at work. As a result, these individuals may fail to meet deadlines or quotas, submit careless work or not perform at all.
- Behavioral problems- there certain behaviors exhibited by an employee that can signal he/she is on drugs. These include disproportionate use of breath mints, insecurity of being around people, bloodshot eyes, abnormal laughter, tremors, and sleeping at work.
- Poor work relationships- since an employee on drugs does not operate normally and cannot control his/herself, he/she is most likely to be short-tempered, aggressive, rude, and argumentative. She or he may prefer staying alone to avoid suspicion from fellow co-workers or a supervisor.
Observing just one of the above signs may not be enough. One needs to evaluate using two or more in order to identify an employee using drugs while on duty. If the event that these signs are evident, as an employer, you can follow up by carrying out a drug test. There are cases when an employee may be involved in a questionable accident. If such a scenario occurs, the employer is allowed to conduct a post-accident drug test.
Drug testing should not be perceived as a tool against workers but as a measurement to ensure a safe working environment.