Drugs at Work? Why Your Company Should Have a Workplace Program

Drugs at Work? Why Your Company Should Have a Workplace Program

By Christopher A. Parrella, J.D., CHC, CPC, CPCO

The cost of drug abuse to society is staggering. It’s estimated to exceed $190 billion – with the most ($130 billion) in lost productivity. Given that an estimated 70 percent of people with a substance use problem are employed, the impact on the workplace can range from increased use of sick time to decreased productivity and even violence.

Healthcare costs for employees with drug abuse problems also are significantly higher (as much as two times more) than other employees.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 20 million Americans aged 12 or older used an illegal drug in the past 30 days.  And, with opioid abuse at epidemic proportions, it’s more important than ever for employers to have a Drug Free Workplace Program in place.

Last October, new federal mandatory guidelines for workplace drug testing allowed for the testing for four semi-synthetic opioids: oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. These are prescription opioid pain medications that have commonly known names such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Dilaudid, etc. These medications were added to the standard testing panel because data indicated that although prescribed, these drugs were most frequently used without medical authority.

Although private companies are not mandated to have such a policy, under the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1998, most companies seeking contracts with the government must maintain a drug-free workplace. Additionally, the Department of Transportation requires companies operating any commercial vehicle in interstate commerce to have a drug-free workplace policy.

In the private sector, if your place of employment doesn’t have a drug-free workplace program, now is the time to start. A drug free workplace is one in which “all employees adhere to a program of policies and activities designed to provide a safe workplace, discourage alcohol and drug abuse and encourage treatment, recovery and the return to work of those employees with such abuse problems,” according to the Council on Alcohol and Drugs.

A comprehensive approach to having a drug free workplace would include:

  • A written policy that is given to all employees and posted somewhere it can be seen
  • Access to assistance, including treatment programs
  • Employee education about the dangers of drug abuse
  • Supervisor training to recognize the warning signs
  • Drug testing prior to hiring and when you have a reason to suspect drugs are being used
  • Consequences should be outlined ahead of time in the policy
  • Confidentiality so that workers can feel comfortable being tested or coming forward for assistance

There are many benefits to having a program in place. In some states, having a written drug policy can help to lower your workers’ compensation insurance premiums. It also can help to reduce workplace injuries, increase productivity and have an overall positive impact on a company’s bottom line.

Substance abuse is a serious problem impacting the lives of not just those who use, but also their families, friends and employers. Innovative Laboratory Solutions, the maker of the EZ Test Cup, has 20-plus years of manufacturing experience behind it. Our 12-panel drug test cup is FDA approved and CLIA waved. Contact us today for more information at info@eztestcup.com or call 561-218-4646.