Employee substance abuse is nothing new. Some people misuse alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs every day. The effects of substance abuse can on the workplace is being understood more and more. Many jobs these days require employees to be bright, alert and have fast reflexes. If someone has been abusing substances and tries to do their job, there is a chance that a serious accident could happen, or at the very least, that the job will be performed inaccurately and below standard.
What is employee substance abuse?
Employee substance abuse is when an employee misuses either legal or illegal drugs or alcohol in their own private time or while at work. This can cause many issues within your workplace and can cause problems in many areas such as:
- Reduced productivity and performance from hangovers or the after effects of substance use
- Having sick days frequently due to substance abuse
- Lack of attention and concentration due to preoccupation with getting and using substances while at the workplace
- Committing crimes by selling or buying illegal drugs while at work
- Stress and anxiety from the abuse of substances by an employee’s love one
- Health and safety risks
All these issues can affect health and safety, productivity, efficiency and profit within your small business. If people are working with dangerous equipment that requires them to be highly concentrated, there is a huge risk to health and safety regulations being carried out by that person. They are more likely to cost the company money through sick days and will slow down the rate of productivity within your business, therefore affecting profit margins.
How can employers avoid substance abuse in the workplace?
As an employer, you can try to avoid substance abuse in the workplace by carrying out regular drug testing on your employees. Employers and their staff can work together to create a clear policy in regards to what behaviour at the work place will and will not be accepted. By creating an Employee Assistance Programme, employers can help any member of staff who needs help to avoid or recover from substance abuse.
Drug and alcohol testing in the workplace
Drug and alcohol testing can be part of your health and safety policy as well as a duty of care to your employees. There are several ways the test can be carried out such as with an oral fluid lab test, urine or hair sample. This is then sent for laboratory testing at an audited and accredited laboratory where the results will be found. The advantages of drug testing in the workplace is that it is clear for all staff within the company that drug or alcohol abuse will not be tolerated behaviour for health and safety reasons, the wellbeing of other employees and the cost to your company.
It is important to tackle substance abuse within the workplace and clearly communicate with your employees regarding this matter, as well as offering them help and support should they need it.