Substance abuse is one of the nation’s largest health problems, afflicting individuals, families and communities across the U.S. Although many stereotypes exist about alcoholics and drug addicts, in reality, substance abuse knows no boundaries, and people struggling with it come from all walks of life. Most are employed, and their behavior creates serious worksite safety concerns. Alcohol and drugs can impair a worker’s judgment and coordination, leading to an increased risk of occupational accidents and injuries. And no business—regardless of industry, size or location—is immune to the hazards alcohol and drug abuse can cause. The findings of various research studies shed light on the prevalence and harmful effects of worker substance abuse.
The good news is that employers and employees can improve safety and health in their workplaces by working together to implement drug-free workplace programs that educate employees about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse and encourage individuals with problems to seek help. Because these programs are natural complements to other initiatives that help ensure safe and healthy workplaces, DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) both strongly support them, especially within workplace environments involving safety-sensitive duties. Drug-free workplace programs are not, however, currently required under OSHA or MSHA regulations.