In 1990, legislation was enacted that created the Florida Drug-Free Workplace Program. The intent was to “promote drug-free workplaces in Florida, in order that employers (would) be afforded the opportunity to maximize their levels of productivity, enhance their competitive positions in the marketplace, and reach their desired levels of success without experiencing the costs, delays, and tragedies associated with work-related accidents resulting from drug abuse by employees.” This legislation provides standardized criteria for employers and the worker’s rights by ensuring consistent, accurate and reliable test results. The success of a drug-free workplace program largely depends upon the commitment of management and labor to actively contribute to and support the implementation of the program. By using the guidelines set forth in the Workers’ Compensation Law, the workplace will be a safer place. Safer workplaces may mean fewer accidents, and fewer accidents mean lower workers’ compensation costs for the employer.
If you are in business, it’s time you know the facts….
The available data continue to indicate that substance abuse has a significant impact in the workplace, with costs estimated at over $100 billion annually. Data show that:
• Seventy-one percent of illegal drug users are employed.
• Alcoholism causes 500 million lost workdays each year.
• Drug and alcohol-related problems are one of the four top reasons for the rise in workplace violence.
• Of those who called the cocaine helpline, 75 percent reported using drugs on the job, 64 percent admitted drugs adversely affected their job performance, 44 percent sold drugs to other employees, and 18 percent had stolen from co-workers to support their drug habit.
• A study conducted by the Institute for Health Policy, Brandeis University, found substance abuse to be the number one health problem in the country, resulting in more deaths, illnesses, and disabilities than any other preventable health condition. While we do not yet have comprehensive data on the specific impact of workplace substance abuse, the data and studies available are compelling. For example:
• Drug-using employees at GM average 40 days sick leave each year compared to 4.5 days for non-users.
• Employees testing positive on pre-employment drug tests at Utah Power & Light were 5 times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident than those who tested negative.
• The State of Wisconsin estimates that expenses and losses related to substance abuse average 25 percent of the salary of each worker affected.
Despite recent news reports about the increased use of drugs, we continue to be encouraged that workplace substance abuse is a problem for which a solution exists. When the issue is addressed by establishing comprehensive programs, it is a “win-win” situation for both employers and employees. The following examples are illustrative.
A study of the economic impact of substance abuse treatment in Ohio found significant improvements in job-related performance:
• a 91 percent decrease in absenteeism;
• an 88 percent decrease in problems with supervisors;
• a 93 percent decrease in mistakes in work; and,
• a 97 percent decrease in on-the-job injuries.
• At Southern Pacific railroad, injuries dropped 71 percent.
• An electric supply company with 150 employees experienced a 39 percent decrease in absenteeism and a 36 percent increase in productivity.
• A construction company with 60 employees reduced workers’ compensation claims by $50,000.
• A manufacturer with 560 employees experienced a 30-35 percent decrease in industrial accidents.
Statistics such as these suggest not just that workplace substance abuse is an issue that all employers need to address but also that it is an issue for which there is an answer. Taking steps to identify those with substance abuse problems and offer a helping hand will not only improve worker safety and health but also increase workplace productivity and competitiveness.
No one wants to believe that a friend or a co-worker has a substance abuse problem. Subtle changes in behavior may not be recorded because no one knows how or wants to confront the problem. If there is a problem, ignoring it will not make it go away. Substance abuse problems do not get better if left alone, they only get worse. When these behaviors are ignored, workers who have a substance abuse problem continue to be a risk to themselves and their co-workers. By taking steps to eliminate drugs in your workplace, you will have a safer work environment, a more productive workforce, reduced workdays lost as a result of work accidents, and possibly lower workers’ compensation costs and premiums.
Implementing a Workers’ Compensation Drug-Free Workplace Program Can Save You $$$$$
An employer that implements a Drug-Free Workplace Program, and becomes a carrier certified drug-free workplace may be protected (in most cases) from workplace accidents that are a result of employees working under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Studies have shown a well-planned program to reduce substance abuse can increase productivity, reduce accidents, and decrease costs due to insurance claims. An employer implementing this program will also receive additional benefits:
~All employees will become more aware of the importance of safety in the workplace and will benefit from a safer work environment.
~When an employee incurs a work-related injury, and refuses to take a drug test when requested, the injured employee may forfeit eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits,regardless of the cause of the accident.
~An employee who loses a job or is denied employment as a result of a positive drug/alcohol test, may not qualify for unemployment compensation benefits. In that case, the contributory employer could be relieved of charges in connection with the unemployment claim.
~If drugs are found in the employee’s system at or above threshold levels, the injured employee may not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits (Note: Case law may affect the injured employee’s eligibility to benefits). This benefit is provided to employers who are carrier certified and in compliance with the program. If the employer is not carrier certified as a drug-free workplace, and the injured employee is able to show that
the cause of the accident was not related to the presence of drugs in his/her system (i.e., if a heavy piece of equipment falls on the worker through no fault of his or her own), he or she may still be entitled to benefits.
~If you implement a drug-free workplace program and become carrier certified, you are eligible for a 5 percent credit to your workers’ compensation insurance premium.
Call us today and learn about IDENTICO’s Mobile Drug Testing solutions which are offered to local businesses and community organizations in South Florida. Say “No” to abuse of cocaine or marijuana at your workplace. Our mobile drug screening bus is capable to travel to your location and collect urine based drug tests on-site. The testing will be conducted in leading nationwide laboratories, and the results will be verified and signed by certified MRO (Medical Review Officer).
Contact us at (954) 239-8590 and we’ll stop unacceptable drug activities at your business.