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Drug Testing and Your Bottom Line

Posted 4/27/2017 by UHBlog

Talk to us about how a drug screening program can save your organization money.

Drug Testing and Your Bottom Line

If your workplace isn’t doing drug screenings yet because you don't know how to implement an effective program or don’t think you need one, you may not realize what that decision is costing your workplace in terms of crime, lost work productivity and health care expenses.

Consider this: The Department of Labor estimates that alcohol and drug abuse costs American businesses roughly $81 billion annually in lost productivity, $37 billion from premature death and $44 billion as a result of illness. Likewise, the connection between drug abuse and crime is well-known. According to Department of Justice statistics, drug law violations account for the most common type of criminal offense.

“There is a cost to (implement) drug screening, but there is also a cost if you don't do it,” says occupational medicine specialist Paul Miotto, MD. “Among the biggest costs to a workplace are increased employee absenteeism and employee turnover, as well as greater safety and quality issues.”

For example, perhaps your company produces products made to a specific standard. If an employee is under the influence, makes a part improperly and passes it down the line to the next worker, that worker could be injured. Similarly, tow motor or crane operators who are high or drunk jeopardize others in the workplace when they operate equipment and risk running into people or dropping something.

“There’s an old saying, 'one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch,'” Dr. Miotto says. “That’s true in the workplace where one person can impact others in so many ways. Even things like their negative personality, personal hygiene and/or personal appearance when they're using or coming down affects others at work.”

According to Dr. Miotto, drug screening benefits your company’s bottom line in many ways, including:

  • Reduces employee absenteeism. Drug and alcohol abusers have about a two-and-one-half greater absenteeism rate, Dr. Miotto says.
  • Drives down health care costs. “People who abuse cause insurance and injury costs to rise,” he says.
  • Decreases theft. “Unfortunately, if someone is on heroin, they have to buy the drug somewhere,” Dr. Miotto says. “It’s costly. People have the illusion that people on heroin don't work with them, when actually, approximately 70 percent of drug users are employed.”
  • Lowers recruitment costs. “Drug screenings mean you won't be hiring those individuals in the first place,” he says.

To establish an effective workplace drug screening program, Dr. Miotto recommends employers follow these four guidelines:

  1. Consult an attorney. This helps ensure your organization is in compliance with local laws, rules and regulations. And don't worry if your company is small.
    “Even if you only have a few employees, it’s really how you want your workplace to be set up and the type of people you want working for you,” Dr. Miotto says.
  2. Decide when to drug screen. Drug testing can be done at different times, depending on what your workplace policy states. These include:
    • A pre-employment evaluation
    • Random and for cause when there is reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol use
    • Post-accident when an incident occurs on the job
    • Return-to-work screening after an absence
  3. Determine what substances to screen for. This allows your organization to determine the tests you want – for instance, to check for marijuana, cocaine and alcohol.
    “There is no one test that checks for everything,” Dr. Miotto says. “For the purposes of drug testing, we can customize testing to meet a company’s need to screen for particular drugs that are prevalent in their workplace, such as specific injectable medications that are only found in health care facilities/nursing homes, or designer/synthetic drugs, such as analogs of amphetamines and marijuana that are found more often in factories.”
  4. Communicate with your employees. Successful drug prevention programs include involving workers so they understand why the screenings are being implemented and training managers and supervisors in advance of the rollout.

To learn more about University Hospitals’ occupational health and safety services, connect with University Hospitals Employer Solutions for more information.

Paul Miotto, MD, is an occupational medicine specialist and Medical Director for University Hospitals Occupational Health at University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center Occupational Medicine. You can request an appointment with Dr. Miotto or any other doctor online.

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