Inoculating Your Business Against Drug/Alcohol With a Substance Abuse Prevention Program


A well kept secret of drug users in America is they are largely employed. Of the 16.6 million adult illicit drug users in 2002, 12.4 million (74.6 percent) were employed full or part time. [1] Most binge and heavy alcohol users were also employed. Among the 51.1 million adult binge drinkers, 40.8 million (80 percent) are employed either full or part time [1]

The economic and human costs include: losses in productivity, employers paying out claims, lost days on the job, and reduction in productivity. Substance abuse causes: accidents, injuries and death, time off, tardiness, dismissal, more drug use, theft, and poor performance. Addressing these problems with a Drug Free Workplace Program (DFWP) has proven to improve performance for employees and employers. In addition, 12 states provide mandated insurance company discounts when an DFWP is in place, and employers everywhere may be eligible for insurance discounts.

Our Drug Free Workplace Program training kit provides: a manual with a comprehensive written policy, an employee assistance program, a controlled drug testing procedure, a 13-lesson employee program, a 6- lesson supervisor program, certificates of completion, all the necessary publications, forms and records. Please read further for a detailed account of the problems of substance abuse, how a prevention safety manual helps businesses and how Safety Services Company can provide you with your DFWP.

Drug Use Is Prevalent in the Workplace

Drug use is solidly entrenched in the American workplace. Of the 16.6 million adult illicit drug users in 2002, 12.4 million (74.6 percent) were employed either full or part time. [1] Most binge and heavy alcohol users were also employed. Among the 51.1 million adult binge drinkers, 40.8 million (80 percent) are employed either full or part time. [1] Similarly, 12 million (79 percent) of the 15.2 million adult heavy drinkers were employed. [1]

Drug Use by Industry

Industries with the highest rates of past month illicit drug use among full-time workers: 1. accommodations and food services (16.9 percent) and 2. construction (13.7 percent). [2] Industries with the highest rates of past month heavy alcohol use: 1. construction (15.9 percent); 2. arts, entertainment, and recreation (13.6 percent); 3. mining (13.3 percent). [2]

Substance Abuse Causes:

  • Accidents
  • Injury Drug Use
  • Death Theft
  • Time off
  • Tardiness
  • Dismissal
  • Poor Performance
  • Money

The Varied Costs and Workplace Impact

The economic and human costs attributed to drug and alcohol use are astounding. In fact, the cost to U.S. workplaces from drug use has nearly doubled in the past 20 years, growing from roughly $80 billion to $150 billion in lost productivity a year. It is not a problem isolated to the states.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA), reports that substance abuse cost the Canadian economy more than $39.8 billion in 2002. This figure includes costs for tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. [3] These losses in productivity are associated with the cost employers must pay out in claims, lost days on the job and reduction in productivity. Here are the results of a few brief studies that examined the impact of drugs in workplaces.


In 1998 the U.S. congress passed the Drug Free Workplace Act (DFWPA), which requires Federal grantees and recipients of Federal contracts of $100,000 or more to have a written policy that explains what’s prohibited, and the consequences of violating the policy. Failure to comply with the act could result in any contracts awarded to you by a Federal agency may be suspended, terminated, or both. You may become ineligible for consideration of any future contracts, and prohibited from participating in any future procurement by any Federal agency for up to five years.
In addition, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) have established requirements that are even more stringent than the DFWPA. Employers working in transportation and pipeline businesses must meet those requirements.

Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation

  • Up to 47% of industrial injuries and 40% of industrial deaths can be traced to alcohol and other drugs.
  • Users are 3 – 4 times more likely to be involved in workplace accidents.
  • Users are 5 times more likely to file a workers’ compensation claim.
  • In 2007, the average cost per workplace injury was $43,000.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

  • Drug users are 2.2 times more likely to request early dismissal or time off.
  • Drug users are 2.5 times more likely to have absences of eight days or more.
  • Drug users are 3 times more likely to be late for work.

National Cocaine Helpline survey of callers

  • 75% reported using drugs on the job.
  • 64% said that drugs badly affected their job performance.
  • 44% sold drugs to other employees.
  • 18% had stolen from coworkers to support their drug habit.

Small Business Administration Study

  • When they do show up, substance abusers are 33 percent less productive and cost their employers $7,000 annually
  • Annual productivity losses from substance abuse amount to $640 for every American worker, regardless of whether they are substance abusers.

Prevention Reduces Negative Effects

Addressing substance abuse with comprehensive programs is a win for employers and employees. A study of the economic impact of substance abuse treatment found significant improvements in job-related performance. A few highlights of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction study.

  • 91 percent decrease in absenteeism
  • 88 percent decrease in problems with supervisors
  • 93 percent decrease in mistakes in work
  • 97 percent decrease in on-the-job injuries

In addition, many states mandate insurance companies to discount your workman’s compensation premiums by implementing a drug free work place policy.

Our Drug Free Workplace Program (DFWP)

Imagine you have an employee that starts coming to work late, is less productive and has become careless in regards to safety. You have heard complaints about his drug use and there are rumors he is not the only one. Do you know what to do next? Does your business already have an established policy of the ramifications of drug and alcohol use? Do you have a fair and legal testing procedure? Or what about a program to get the employee help and retain him as a valuable asset?

To answer these questions with a resounding yes, Safety Services Company, North America’s largest supplier of safety training materials, has developed our Drug Free Workplace Program training kit (DFWP). Our DFWP kit provides:

  • A manual with a comprehensive written policy
  • An Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • A controlled drug testing procedure
  • A 13-lesson employee substance abuse awareness training program
  • A 6-lesson supervisor training program
  • Reproducible certificates of completion
  • All the necessary publications, forms and records to carry out the program

The kit is designed as a do-it-yourself resource, is compliant with state regulations and will replace thousands of dollars you would otherwise spend on training during the lifetime of your company.


This publication does not itself alter or determine compliance responsibilities, which are set forth in OSHA standards themselves and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Moreover, because interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements, the reader should consult current and administrative interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the Courts.

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