Alcohol and drug abuse is a growing problem in our society. Substance misuse has a huge impact on business in both financial and legal terms. Almost 17 million working days are lost each year in the UK due to alcohol misuse alone and it is estimated, in the last month, 9.3 million full time employees have abused drugs. Misuse of alcohol or drugs can impair an individual’s ability to perform even normal, routine tasks and it also affects their ability to interact socially. This will impact on all areas of an individual’s life and their workplace is no exception. The fact that the majority of substance abusers (74%) are in full time employment makes the management of substance misuse a priority for all Human Resources, Health and Safety and Occupational Health Professionals.
Drug and alcohol abuse is a major cause of employee absenteeism, accidents, negligence, poor productivity and overall dissatisfaction within companies worldwide. It has been reported that alcohol is implicated in 60% of all workplace accidents, with a total of 25% contributed to drug and alcohol abuse collectively. Drug and alcohol abuse puts you, your employees and the profitability of your business at high risk.
Employees who have misused drugs or alcohol are a danger to themselves and those around them, leaving the company vulnerable to legal proceedings. The Corporate Manslaughter & Corporate Homicide Act (UK, 2007) and the Corporate Manslaughter & Grossly Negligent Management Causing Death (ROI, 2013) introduce new offences for prosecuting companies and other organisations where there has been a gross failing in the management of health and safety with fatal consequences.
To successfully tackle the issue of substance misuse in the workplace, employers must put in place a robust drug and alcohol workplace policy. An effective drug and alcohol policy will protect your employees from the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, whilst also improving your profitability and overall success. Drug and alcohol screening is a valuable component of this policy.