Substance Abuse as a Cause of Workplace Injuries

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse and workplace injuries

Workplace safety is a top priority for employers and employees alike. The problem with keeping it lies in the fact that it depends on the effort and responsibility of your staff. Sadly, both these traits are something that the majority of drug addicts and alcoholics are in short supply of. The thing is that you need to trust your staff to follow a certain procedure. You need them to be able to keep their composure and react in a timely manner to save someone’s life.

Needless to say, this is one of the main reasons why so many companies order drug test kits in bulks and test their employees on a regular basis. Here’s how substance abuse can cause workplace injuries and make their consequences worse.

Let’s speak numbers

According to some figures from several years ago, about 40% of all industrial workplace fatalities are caused by substance abusers. In the past, alcohol was the main culprit for such a large figure. Nonetheless, in the last several years, various forms of drugs are starting to take over. We’re not just talking about one who’s intoxicated in the workplace but also someone who makes a mistake while hungover or undergoing a withdrawal crisis.

Overall, this is a fairly large figure and while eliminating substance abuse probably won’t reduce the number of accidents by 40%. You see, not every injury that happens while someone was under the influence is caused by this influence. However, the fact that the use dulls the senses of the actors may make the situation somewhat worse. The fact that it also affects their reflexes makes them impossible to react in time. In other words, being under the influence is a factor that can make a bad situation worse. This makes it a priority for the majority of employers.

Too much responsibility for someone unreliable

The biggest problem here lies in the fact that there’s no industry that’s completely drug-free. Truck drivers, construction workers, professional athletes, and even doctors or teachers can be under the influence. So, what happens when you have a pilot flying hundreds of passengers under the influence of a particular substance? What happens when we’re talking about a surgeon holding a scalpel in someone’s chest cavity while they’re under the influence of drugs? It’s not a pleasant thought, especially since it directly threatens other lives.

Liability is difficult to determine

The liability should lie on the person who comes to work under influence but this isn’t always the case. You see, if one of your employees can prove that you knew of the suspicious behavior of the drug user prior to the injury, you might be in trouble. The simplest way for the majority of the employers to stay on the safe side is to order a 6-panel drug test and subject their employees to a regular checkup of Substance Abuse. This way, you can even avoid instances where some employees claim that they’re wrongly accused or harassed.

Cause of Workplace Injuries

The danger for their coworkers

Addicts are not just dangerous to themselves, they’re also dangerous for their coworkers. A person who acts erratically should not be trusted with heavy machinery and expensive equipment. Other than this, it is easy to provoke an addict (even unintentionally), which makes them a liability. Could they assault one of your staff members? Well, such a thing definitely wouldn’t be unheard of.

In other words, by keeping a drug addict around, you’re virtually creating a scenario in which you’re just waiting for an accident to happen. Provided that you suspect that a greater number of drugs are in option, a 10-panel drug test or even 12-panel drug test might be an option.

Disruption of routines and procedures

In order to keep your employees safe, you need to ensure that they follow every little procedure. What happens if a person appears late for work and you need 4 people to perform a certain physical task? Is it just as safe for 3 people? This is not always the case. Also, addicts tend to live in a messy environment and in a lot of workplaces, the mess can increase the likelihood of an accident. They tend to misplace items, which may cause a tripping hazard or make work processes less safe by making team unable to find a suitable tool.

In-house theft

Drug addicts are known for stealing things in order to financially support their habit. The matter of in-house theft is not just something that costs your company its resources. It’s also a matter of security. Why? Well, because once things start missing, this can cause a chain of events that can endanger everyone’s safety. Tools missing mean that someone in the office might try to replace them with something else. Keep in mind that they might even steal some items that are pivotal for the overall safety and security in the workplace. For instance, it’s not impossible to imagine a drug addict stealing a fire extinguisher.

It depends on their position

Lastly, you need to keep in mind that a drug addict behind a wheel poses a disaster waiting to happen. They can cause an accident while commuting to and from work but they can also work as a driver in your employ. Even when pulled over by the cops, law enforcement lacks the drug test to identify them. This means that they will test them for alcohol and if they pass (which they might), they’ll just let them go. The responsibility for any accident that they cause, however, will be on you. To avoid this, you should perform a regular drug and alcohol test in your company.

In conclusion

Finally, keeping your company safe sometimes means watching out for every individual in your employ. Sure, you don’t know what they’re doing while at home and there are some things that you as an employer have no business knowing. Still, if it’s something as serious as substance abuse, it’s not just your right to know – it’s your duty to know. Just make sure that you study the law in order to check your options.

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