Safety Tip of the week

Aug 14, 2019
Written by Rick Means, Director of Safety & Education

Substance abuse increases safety risks

The U.S. Health Department reports that as of 2015, nearly 140 million Americans drank alcohol and nearly 25 million used illicit drugs. When you add in Washington State’s marijuana law, there’s at least a chance that one of your co-workers is using one or both substances.

Alcohol consumption remains the leading cause of workplace issues followed by marijuana and prescription drugs, in that order. Often co-workers under the influence do not adhere to safe practices because their body is not in a normal state.

To recognize warning signs of abuse, look for:

  • Frequent disappearances
  • Excessive sick or personal days
  • Uncharacteristic behavior
  • Rollercoaster work performance
  • Difficulty with relationships.

Substance abuse in the workplace can be particularly devastating. It not only impacts an individual’s health and working relationships but also reduces productivity and increases absences and the risk of accidents.  There is also a strong connection to increased workplace injuries.

Employers should update their substance abuse policies regularly, making sure that alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs and abuse of prescription drugs are addressed.  For information on how a small business can set policy, click here.

Here is a good weblink with tips for dealing with substance abuse problems in the workplace.  The RS Safety Library also has a section on Alcohol and Drug abuse for more information.

WR employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or [email protected]