Alcohol and drug use among employees and their family members can be an expensive problem for any industry.
The impact of alcoholism and drug dependence in the workplace generally focuses on four major areas: premature death and fatal accidents; injuries and accident rates; absenteeism; and loss of productivity. Other problem areas include tardiness, sleeping on the job, poor decision making, loss of efficiency, theft, workplace morale, high turnover and more. In addition, family members living with someone’s alcoholism or drug use may also suffer significant job performance related problems, including absenteeism, lack of focus, increased health-related problems and use of health insurance.
There is a certain level of danger associated with any construction job site. Because we don’t want to add to the danger, it’s important to establish guidelines and consequences for substance abuse and help employees follow those guidelines.
Coworkers are often reluctant to let management know when they suspect drug or alcohol activity. They are concerned that any coworkers they identify will be penalized or even lose their jobs. The reality is that the abuser is placed in far greater jeopardy when this information is not reported. Silence helps to foster opportunities for hazards and continued drug use to exist. Below are three suggestions on how to deal with this type of situation:
- Don’t be an enabler. When you cover up for substance abusers, lend them money or help conceal poor work performance, you are protecting them from the consequences of their behavior and making it possible for them to continue using drugs or alcohol.
- Don’t look the other way. If you suspect drugs are being used or sold on your worksite, report it to your supervisor. Contacts are normally confidential and anonymous.
- Don’t intervene on your own. Drug abuse and drug dealing are serious problems, and qualified professionals should handle them.
Cooperation is the key to dealing with substance abuse in the workplace. Employers and employees alike have a role to play. We must all recognize our roles and carry out our responsibilities. We must ensure:
- A comprehensive drug-free policy is in place.
- Employees are educated regarding the effects of drug and alcohol abuse.
- Supervisors are trained to recognize such abuse.
- Employees are periodically tested.
- Assistance is available for employees who require help.