Work Safe

Drug and Alcohol-Free Workplace

The number of people who work and abuse drugs and alcohol is surprisingly high. Nearly 80 percent of American adults who drink heavily, also work. More than 60 percent of adults with substance dependence or abuse work full time.(1) Combined, that’s nearly 26 million working adults who are endangering not just their lives, but our workplaces. Making the commitment to achieve an alcohol and drug-free workplace can go a long way toward preventing and reducing the severity of workplace injuries.

How critical is a drug prevention program?
When you’re weighing the importance of dedicating time and resources to alcohol and drug-free policies and procedures, consider these compelling statistics:

In those occupations with the highest rates of drug information and policies in the workplace, employees reported significantly lower rates of current drug use and heavy drinking.(2)

Nearly 60 percent of managers and supervisors say their companies are "tough" on illicit drugs but "soft" on alcohol; 80 percent say they have inadequate training in how to address employee performance problems.(3)

One in five workers report being injured, having to cover for a co-worker, or needing to work harder due to other employees' drinking. Nearly one-third of workers who consider their jobs to be dangerous report experiencing "secondhand" alcohol effects.(4)

What’s the real cost of substance abuse in the workplace?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that illicit drug use in the workplace costs employers $140 billion annually in lost productivity, thefts, absenteeism and accidents. Studies also reveal that substance abusers are far less productive, miss more work days, are more likely to injure themselves or others and file more workers compensation claims. What’s more, employed drug abusers cost their employers about twice as much in medical and workers compensation claims as their drug-free co-workers.

When evaluating the impact of alcohol or drug-related injuries, it’s important to consider the direct costs of an incident as well as these indirect areas of impact:

  • Morale
  • Workers compensation claims
  • Group health insurance costs
  • Seeing the family effects
  • Loss in productivity
  • Skill replacement
  • Employment market is tight
  • Cost of hiring new employees

Sources:
1 Results from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

2 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Worker Drug Use and Workplace Policies and Programs: Results from the 1994 and 1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, September 1999.

3 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Perspectives for Worksite Alcohol Strategies: Results from a Corporate Drinking Study, December 1998. As reported in Drug Strategies, Millennium Hangover: Keeping Score on Alcohol, 1999.

4 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Perspectives for Worksite Alcohol Strategies: Results from a Corporate Drinking Study, December 1998. As reported in Drug Strategies, Millennium Hangover: Keeping Score on Alcohol, 1999.

Do you have questions about how Missouri Employers Mutual or the WorkSAFE Center can help your workplace? Contact us today to learn more about our resources and custom safety training.

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