In an earlier installment on our website, we talked about ways to recognize and do something about coworkers that have problems with alcohol and drugs. Here are some of the staggering facts:
In the United States:
- One out of every 10 people has an alcohol problem;
- There are more than 50 million binge drinkers;
- There are 17 million illegal drug users;
- Almost 15 million people who abuse prescription drugs are out there;
- Approximately 68% of illegal drug users are employed either full-time or part-time. (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
- Between 10% and 20% of our nation’s workers who die on the job test positive for alcohol or other drugs. (OSHA)
Do you know or work with someone who would be included in the above figures? Persons who have a problem with drugs or alcohol are costly to employers, because of being less productive. They are likely to hurt themselves or someone else. They normally miss more work days, file more worker’s compensation claims, or damage equipment by making errors in judgment.
If you know someone who might have a problem with drugs or alcohol, you will hurt them more by ignoring their problem, doing their job, lending them money, or covering up for them. Don’t enable them. Most companies have Employee Assistance Programs, ensuring that their employees can get treatment without penalty. If they have a serious addiction problem, they should be encouraged to get help. After successful therapy, everyone wins in this situation: the employee, the company, and the coworkers!
There also should be policies against drug use in the workplace, with firm consequences for violations. If appropriate, drug testing should be utilized. If your company doesn’t have a program of this type, work with your security office or employee association to set up an anonymous hotline for reporting drug trafficking on the job.
OSHA works with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Partners for An Alcohol and Drug Free Workplace program to help employers ensure their health and safety plans are enhanced through workplace drug prevention.