Drug-Free Workplace: The Work Comp Playbook For Employers

According to recent statistics, 75% of all adult illicit drug users are employed. Studies have shown that employees who use illicit drugs are more likely to frequently change jobs, miss or be tardy for work, become involved in accidents, cause quality control issues, delay production, and file a far greater percentage of claims. If your workplace hasn’t yet established itself as drug-free, you could find yourself at risk for the above issues and more.

In some cases, employees become addicted to drugs through workers’ compensation, and those addicted to drugs often file claims in order to obtain drugs. In addition, some immoral claimant attorneys and doctors use drugs as a means to increase claims costs, which is a huge driver in MSAs. By becoming a certified drug-free workplace, you can protect yourself and your company from such risks, in addition to obtaining premium credit, having a far stronger claim defense, and improving accountability within your company.

The Benefits of a Drug-Free Workplace

In addition to a far lower risk level, a drug-free workplace provides a number of benefits. According to Employee Drug Testing Ace, there are a myriad of benefits to creating a drug-free workplace, with the first being improved safety conditions. Employees have shown to be 33% less productive when working under the influence, between 38 and 58% percent of workplace injuries involve drugs and alcohol, and up to 20% of workplace deaths can be attributed to substance abuse, according to the United States Department of Labor.

Another benefit of a certified drug-free workplace is something that often goes hand-in-hand with a safer working environment – higher morale in the workplace. Employees who do not abuse drugs are often aware of those who do, which can create an uncomfortable working environment. Reducing substance abuse will also decrease absenteeism, tardiness, and employee turnover rates; alcoholism is attributed to causing approximately 500 million missed workdays each year, and general substance abuse causes an employee to miss an average of four work days each month (two due to illness or injury and two due to absenteeism).

Finally, a drug-free workplace comes with numerous financial benefits. Some of these benefits are:

  • Reducing HR and hiring costs, particularly through pre-employment drug screenings
  • Lowering worker’s compensation costs
  • Reducing employee losses, errors and repairs, and risks
  • Lowering health insurance costs by 300%
  • Receiving a higher collection rate on insurance

OSHA’s Recent Drug-Testing Rules

At the beginning of this calendar year, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) established a new set of rules regarding drug-testing that could mean big things for your workplace. According to Smart Business, said guidelines will require employers to track work-related injuries and illnesses and submit them electronically to OSHA’s website. This will provide employers with an additional incentive to encourage workplace health and safety, as the information will be publicly available on OSHA’s website, and could potentially be used as a competitive advantage or disadvantage. Drug-testing laws have also changed; in their new policies OSHA ruled against mandatory post-accident drug screenings. While this may sound counter-intuitive, they believe that employers have not been reporting workplace incidents due to the mandatory drug testing policies, and would like to reduce retaliation practices. Instead, OSHA believes that while pre-employment and random drug testing are still acceptable, it would be best to only administer post-accident drug use when there is reasonable suspicion.

Additional Methods for Establishing a Drug-Free Workplace

Aside from drug-testing, there are a number of ways you can enforce a drug-free workplace. For example, Working Partners suggests creating a formal, written substance abuse policy that will clearly establish the tone, aims, and rules of the procedure, and it should be made readily available and understandable to all employees. In addition, employee education (about the policy, substance abuse, and available resources) and supervisor training are encouraged, as well as a procedure for assisting employees with substance abuse problems.

Here at Compass, we offer a complete toolset to assist you in creating a drug-free workplace. To learn more, you can attend our Compass Risk Series webinar.

About Compass RMS

The risk management firm Risk Management, Inc. has specialized in workers’ compensation since 1996, creating the CWCP (Certified Workers’ Compensation Professional) program in 1999 and the P4 process in 2000. We launched our Compass Risk Management Platform in 2008 and recently released version 4.0. For more information about our services, give us a call at (888) 519-6690 to speak with one of our consultants.