NEW YORK (MainStreet) One in ten small businesses said they had employees arrive at work in 2013 while under the influence of at least one controlled substance, according to a new study by Employers Holdings, Inc.
The most common substances used by employees were alcohol, marijuana and prescription painkillers, said the business owners in the study conducted by Employers, the Reno, Nev. provider of workers' compensation insurance and services for small businesses.
"Business owners today are rightfully concerned about the use of illegal or judgment impairing substances in their workplaces," said Stephen Festa, chief operating officer for Employers. "It's a disturbing trend that we have seen developing over the past several years with the rise in prescription opioids and the increasing legalization of marijuana."
More than half of small business owners said that the abuse of over-the-counter pain medications could also pose a danger to their employees.
"To those of us in the workers' compensation insurance industry, prescription opioid abuse is of particular concern," he said. "The Centers for Disease Control has reported that more people die from prescription painkillers than from heroin or cocaine. Opioid addiction has been linked to decreased worker productivity, as well as making workplaces less safe, prolonging disability claims and increasing the risk of death from overdoses."
Both employers and employees have many legal options when it comes to drug testing, abuse and treatment.
Depending on the state, an employer can utilize drug testing as a means of screening employees before commencing employment, said Rachel Jacobson, a labor and employment attorney at Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck, a Los Angeles law firm.
"The employer also must ensure drug testing, particularly at the hiring stage, is done in a uniform and non-discriminatory way," she said.