Every year there are more than 4 million workplace injuries ranging from cuts and lacerations to falls to fatal accidents, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Some industries, especially those sectors with safety-sensitive positions such as construction, transportation, and manufacturing, are more vulnerable to on-the-job accidents.

An injury can bring struggles for employees and employers alike. Costs can include the loss of salary, productivity, administrative burdens, time, and healthcare expenses. In 2018, the total cost of work injuries was estimated to be $170.8 billion.

Rising workforce drug use and the workplace

Sometimes alcohol and drugs are involved in workplace accidents. Analysis from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ showed that since 2015 there has been a 32% increase in post-accident positivity rate the general U.S. workforce and is at it’s highest levels ever since 2018 in the Federally-mandated safety sensitive workforce.

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The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimates that nearly 70% of the approximately 22 million drug users aged 18 and older are employed. The NSC concurs, saying many workers struggle with alcohol, pain medication, marijuana, and substance use disorders.

Additionally, the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) tell us that approximately 2 million people suffered from an opioid use disorder in 2018 and more than 10 million people misused prescription opioids that same year. As the opioid epidemic continues, many fear that it may have been exacerbated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Drug testing programs can help deter drug users

Drugs and safety do not mix, and drug testing programs can help keep it that way. If your organization’s goal is to create a safe, productive, healthy work environment, a drug testing policy and program can help employers reduce accidents and injuries while championing safety. Additionally, pre-employment drug testing can help to discourage candidates from applying for jobs at companies who drug test.

If an employee has been involved in a workplace accident, post-accident drug testing can be performed. Testing is used to determine whether drugs were a factor in the incident. Although the result of a post-accident drug test may determine drug use, a positive result in and of itself cannot prove that drug use caused an accident.

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The cost of an accident at work can be measured not only financially in lost productivity and physical damages to both people and property, but in the impact on an employee and their colleagues. Workforce drug testing is an important tool to help reduce workplace accidents and deter alcohol and drug use.

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