More than 10% of small businesses had employees show up for work last year while under the influence of at least one controlled substance, according to a recent nationwide study. The survey of more than 500 businesses with 100 or fewer employees, commissioned by workers compensation insurer Employers Holdings Inc. (Reno, NV), found that alcohol, marijuana, and prescription painkillers were the most common substances abused.
“Business owners today are rightfully concerned about the use of illegal or judgment-impairing substances in their workplaces,” says Employers Holding Chief Operating Officer Stephen Festa. “It’s a disturbing trend that we’ve seen developing during the past several years with the rise in prescription opioids and the increasing legalization of marijuana.”
According to Festa, employees under the influence of these substances on the job pose a potential danger not only to themselves, but also to their fellow workers. More than three-quarters of small business owners surveyed agreed that it’s dangerous for their employees to be under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, prescription painkillers, and such illicit narcotics as heroin and cocaine while at work. More than half of respondents said that over-the-counter pain medications could also pose a danger to employees.
“To those of us in workers compensation insurance, prescription opioid abuse is of particular concern,” says Festa. The Centers for Disease Control has reported that more people die from prescription painkillers than from heroin or cocaine. Opioid addiction has been linked to decreased worker productivity, as well as making workplaces less safe, prolonging disability claims, and increasing the risk of death from overdoses.
As workers compensation specialists, we’d be happy to work with you in developing and implementing programs to help keep your workers clean and sober on the job. Just give us a call.