If you’re a small business owner, you already know workers’ compensation is a big expense. Because most states require this type of insurance in case an employee is injured on the job you may think it’s something you can’t change. The fact of the matter is you can lower your premiums over time by implementing some employee programs and policies and making your business a drug free workplace is one of them.

A drug free workplace is considered to be free of both drugs and alcohol: what’s known as substance abuse. While the focus of this article will be drugs in general it will also touch on alcohol.

There are industry variations in the national statistics on drug use in the workplace, so if your business is in one of the high-risk industries you may wish to become more proactive in keeping drug use out of the employment arena.

There are specific actions you can take to make your business a drug free workplace and those actions will be outlined so you have a blueprint to work from.

Because many states now allow medical marijuana for various physical and mental conditions the laws regarding marijuana use by employees are changing so it’s vital you check with your own state laws pertaining to medical marijuana card holders.

Several states actually give employers discounts on their workers’ compensation insurance if they implement a drug free workplace policy, so you may see direct savings. Those states will be listed below.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) you will see improvements in a wide range of areas once you implement a drug free program. Here’s a look at some of the benefits:

  • Improvements in morale and productivity
  • Decreases in absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover, and theft
  • Better health status among employees and family members
  • Reduced healthcare costs

By ignoring the problem, you may find the exact opposite result: employees injured on the job while under the influence may result in higher workers’ compensation premiums. Depending on the state in which you do business drug use can affect workers’ compensation benefits, too.

 

Industry Variation

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) certain industries are more prone to drug use in the workplace, so if your business falls in one of these categories you’ll want to be more proactive with your employees. Those employed in the mining industries have the highest rate of alcohol abuse at 17.5 percent, followed closely by construction workers at 16.5 percent. Because these are both high risk industries they already face high workers’ compensation insurance rates, so a drug free policy should be followed strictly.

Illicit drug use follows a similar pattern in different industries. Workers in the accommodations and food services industry had a drug use rate of 19.1 percent and construction workers were reported at 14.3 percent.

Some places of employment such as hospitals and schools require drug testing and have a zero-tolerance policy, which may bear a factor in those industries reporting low abuse rates. While testing practices are usually set by the business itself methods and practices may include:

  • pre-employment testing
  • random testing
  • post-accident testing
  • return-to-duty testing
  • reasonable suspicion or cause testing
  • follow-up testing

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