Substance use in the workplace is the cause of 65% of workplace accidents. The word ‘substance’ can include illicit or ‘street’ drugs, alcohol and even prescription medication. Many workplaces require alertness and attentiveness on the job, one minor mistake can have grave consequences.
Drugs and alcohol greatly impair an individual’s senses, judgment, mental health and motor coordination which puts the worker, their co-workers, clients/customers and the work environment at risk for injury. Although, many workplaces take measures, such as employment drug screening to avoid workplace substance use, however, it always helps to know the signs.
Wondering why your employer administers mandatory drug tests? Learn about the purpose of workplace drug testing.
WHAT IS SUBSTANCE USE?
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, “substance use” is often thought of as an addiction or dependence, but use can be anywhere on the spectrum or scale from recreational to frequent to problematic.
When substance ‘use’ becomes substance ‘abuse’.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health use the following “4 C’s” to describe addiction:
- loss of control of amount or frequency of use
- compulsion to use
- use despite consequences
HOW TO IDENTIFY SUBSTANCE USE IN THE WORKPLACE
- Absenteeism; Lateness
- An extreme drop in productivity levels, presenteeism
- Sudden mood swings/changes in temperament, irritability and/or indifference without apparent reason/cause
- Sweaty hands, reddened eyes/nose, deteriorating teeth/gums
- Decreasing personal hygiene
- Increased number of breaks
- Slurring words/unusual or erratic behaviour
- Declination in health and judgment
- Increase in conflict with other employees and/or customers/clients
There are many other factors that could point to substance use–some that may not be very obvious.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT A CO-WORKER IS USING SUBSTANCES ON THE JOB
Substance use can be a very difficult conversation to have–especially with a co-worker or employee. It’s important to exercise discretion when approaching the topic. If you suspect your co-worker is abusing drugs or alcohol, first, refer to your company’s drug policy–often, it outlines instructions on what to do if you suspect substance use in the workplace.
If not, then it’s best to speak with your supervisor. Let them know what lead you to this conclusion and allow them to follow protocol to handle the situation. In most cases, your supervisor will provide some confidentiality, as these conversations can be tough.
“Approximately 16% of emergency room patients that are injured in the workplace have alcohol in their system”– National study on alcohol-related occupational injuries
The likelihood of occupational injuries increased by nearly 95% when alcohol or drugs is involved. Remember that in reporting incidents to your supervisor, you are protecting the safety of everyone in the workplace and could potentially be saving a life.
Substance use in the workplace costs everyone.
Did you know that drug use and addiction cost American companies over $25 billion (USD) every year?
Workplace substance use comes with a heavy bill–employers must cover costs such as absenteeism, accidents/workplace injuries, healthcare, and lost productivity.
If you or someone in your life struggles with substance use, visit Canada’s resource site for a list of resources to help. Together, we can end the stigma and fight addiction.
WHAT CAN EMPLOYERS DO TO PREVENT SUBSTANCE USE IN THE WORKPLACE?
Workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility. Employers can take the necessary measures to ensure a drug and alcohol-free workplace by implementing the following strategies:
- Establish a workplace drug/alcohol procedure and policy
- Pre/post-employment drug screening
- Random drug/alcohol tests
- Post-incident drug/alcohol screening program
- Training programs for supervisors such as Reasonable Cause/Suspicion & Supervisor Awareness Training
- Implement an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) where employers can direct employees to community and treatment services
- Create a safe space for employees to speak openly and reduce the stigma associated with addiction, so victims of substance abuse can seek help without fear.
GET YOUR TEAM COVERED NOW!
Precede offers 24/7 drug and alcohol testing services to its clients across Canada and the USA. Keep your team safe and covered around the clock. Learn more about Precede’s Occupational Health Programs, training and prevention strategies to help keep your workplace drug and alcohol-free