Monday, February 8, 2016

Some Startling Statistics on Prescription Drug Use and Abuse at Work

From BLR:
Prescription painkiller abuse costs employers almost $42 billion because employees that are using are generally less productive while at work, involved in unsafe behaviors, or not at work at all. Also, employees who abuse drugs are two to five times more likely to:
  • Take unexcused absences or show up late to work; 
  • Quit or be fired within 1 year of hiring; 
  • Be involved in workplace incidents; and 
  • File workers’ compensation claims, which accounts for 19 percent of workers’ comp medical costs. 
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of prescriptions for opioid pain relievers such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet shot up from 76 million in 1991 to 213 million in 2013, a 176% increase. These addictive medications are becoming the most abused drugs today, with fatal overdoses increasing 300 percent since 1990.

The National Safety Council notes that the prescription painkiller epidemic poses a unique challenge for employers since these medications are powerful, highly addictive drugs that have the potential to cause impairment and increase the risk of workplace incidents, errors, and injury—even when taken as prescribed. Over-the-counter medications, like sleep aids and cough medicine, can also pose safety risks.

Employers have the legal responsibility to provide a safe workplace, anddoing so can help in managing accident costs such as workers’ compensation, asset damage, and production disruption.