What Is The Real Cost Of Substance Abuse In The Workplace?

Back in the day employers would claim, “I know all of my workers personally and know that they are not involved in anything illegal, especially substance abuse.” It seems recent statically evidence proves different results in the new economy, as fast-paced lifestyles and global communications mold the future generation.

More than 8.3 million adults who used drugs were employed in 1997 and that number continues to grow into 2014. Access has become one of the biggest problems in the distribution of narcotics and illegal substances in the modern era.

For employers, substance abuse within your workplace may have substantial negative impacts to your company’s longevity both financially and structurally. The economic and human costs of drug and alcohol use are astounding. Below, I have pointed out just a few of the short-term and long-term losses of substance abuse within the workplace.

The Real Problem

There is always a cost to a decision, whether the cost is immediately known or delayed – there will always be a cost to substance abuse. After the financial meltdown on Wall Street, 8 out of 10 employees of the major firms involved admitted to excessive cocaine use during the trading of mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations. These two forms of trading were a large part of the global financial crisis, costing millions of people their livelihoods.

Substance abuse will eventually cause inconsistent work quality, poor concentration and focus, lowered productivity and work ethic, and carelessness. If one of your workers is using drugs and produces a defected engineered product, your company will be liable for the collateral damage from shipping injuries occurred. Lawsuits and future business loss will ensue after multiple incidents.

With substance abuse, many short-term costs are hard to explain and calculate, but eventually the
usage of illegal drugs will plague your workforce and company dynamic. Influence from other employees may cause the issue to extrapolate and turn into a company-wide issue. In addition, complaints and deterioration in personal appearances will start to occur, causing the company money and future image concerns. With approximately 70% of the 14.8 Americans who use illegal drugs currently employed, America is losing money and productivity.

Every year, drug and alcohol abuse costs the economy an excess of $200 billion dollars. If you’re company wants to benefit from a drug-free and alcohol-free environment, you could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in lost productivity and missed opportunities.

Although OSHA has no specific regulations addressing substance abuse on the job, citations in the past have been cited to employees and employers upon further investigation of a violation claim. If a worker is incompetent and clearly intoxicated during an inspection, OSHA could cite the worker as part of a violation with improper procedure and quality control.

The Bottom-Line

If the long-term consequences of substance abuse within your workplace do not alarm you, even
though history shows that every major business scandal involved some sort of drug or alcohol abuse, understand the short-term affects involved. Financially, one defective product, especially if you’re within an industry that holds extensive safety standards, could cause bankruptcy. Immediately after a death or injury your company will be in hot water. One mistake could ruin everything that you have worked for!

This post was written by Matthew Hall from the www.eCompliance.com blog team. Matthew lives in Orlando, Florida and enjoys spending his spare time with friends and family. Visit him on Google+ to learn more.

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