Workplace drug use is on the rise. Employee drug abuse impairs employees’ ability to function correctly, resulting in increased safety risk and lost productivity.

In the United States, about 70% of drug users consumed illicit opioids on the job. The biggest problems show up in the food & beverage, construction, transportation, and healthcare industries. Sometimes it’s easy to recognize these folks; other times not.

Always keep an out for certain telling behaviors. Keep track of employees who arrive late to work — or who leave early. Managers and supervisors must be provided with adequate training to recognize the signs of employee drug abuse at the workplace.

In 2017, 64,000 Americans lost their lives to drug abuse: 174 deaths per day and seven per hour. The most common drugs that American workers are abusing include OxyContin, Lortab, Percocet, Vicodin, and Heroin Most employment drug tests will detect heroin, but not the others.

It was not until 2018 that the US Department of Transportation required that these opioids be included in the federal drug test panel. The DOT drug test panel now includes testing for oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. In non-regulated drug testing, these additional drugs are referred to as expanded opiates.

According to the DHHS, over 4.1 million people consume prescribed opioids. Each year, these opioids cost businesses millions of dollars, and many are “under the radar.”

Why Drug-Free Policies Are Important for the Employer during Opiate Crisis

Creating a drug-free workplace environment is not easy, and a written drug-free workplace policy is where it starts. Employers implement many policies to manage the workplace, and a substance use policy is a critical part of that strategy.

In some situations, a drug-free workplace allows an employer to become eligible for insurance discounts or government contracts. Employers with federally regulated employees are required to have a written policy that meets specific guidelines.

The primary goal of a drug-free workplace policy is to eliminate the use of illicit drugs in the workplace to create a safe, healthy and productive environment. A well-designed policy will include requirements for:

  • Pre-employment drug screening
  • Reasonable suspicion testing
  • Post-accident drug testing
  • The return-to-duty process, counseling or rehabilitation
  • Random testing as per company needs

Testing for employees using opiates in the workplace

In every state, employers can conduct opiates testing, but they are advised to use caution. That is, especially when you are testing for substances that may be prescribed by a doctor, you need to be able to tell the abusers from those who have a valid prescription. That’s where the Medical Review Officer comes in.

Opioid use disorders are on the rise in the U.S., which has a direct effect on the workplace. If you are not currently testing for expanded opiates, it’s worthy of consideration – not just for safety, but there are employee health issues at stake as well.

If you need help or have questions, contact InOut Labs or call us at 847-657-7900.