Implementing a Drug-Free Workplace Program


The workplace has changed. Drug and alcohol misuse in the workplace is the most serious problem to affect employers today. No workplace is immune from the adverse effects of substance and alcohol misuse by employees.

As every employer knows, employees do not leave their personal problems at home when they report to work. Drug and alcohol misuse is often times the silent and unseen cause of work related accidents.

There are typically two reasons why an employer wants to implement a program like this. The first being that the company has been faced with a drug or alcohol related issue such as an accident on the job or a controlled substance found in the workplace. Second, the company simply wants to be proactive and institute a comprehensive program for all employees. Whether you fall into one of these categories or you have another agenda, there is no denying that a drug free workplace is an added safety measure that just makes sense.

Workplace Costs

Substance abuse in the workplace affects your bottom line. The tangible costs of increased medical claims, accidents, insurance costs and absenteeism can be calculated in dollars and cents. The hidden costs of substance abuse such as diverted managerial time, damage to equipment, personnel turnover, and damage to the company’s public image are not as easy to calculate but still affect the bottom line. Consider the following facts:

  •     Abusers are 33% TO 50% less productive than non-abusers
  •     Abusers are absent an average of 3 weeks more per year than non-abusers
  •     Abusers are 4 times more likely to have an accident on the job
  •     Abusers are 5 times more likely to file a workers compensation claim
  •     50% to 80% of all pilferage, theft, and loss is due to alcohol and drug misuse

Can My Company Legally Implement A Drug And Alcohol Program?

Most states have no statutes preventing workplace drug and alcohol programs. There are a few states that have specific statutes or long-standing court decisions regarding discrimination of employees, rights of privacy and random testing. These issues need to be considered when your company policy is drafted.