A new survey suggests that many companies aren’t ready to handle opioid problems in the workplace; and HR and workers have very different perspectives on the issue.
As the opioid crisis in this country grows, most organizations are still unsure how to handle issues such as what to do for workers under the influence of these drugs. In fact, according to one survey, only 13% of organizations are confident about spotting signs of opioid misuse, and 76% don’t provide educational programs or information to address this problem. Understanding rules and regs around testing and how you can help employees is essential to take charge of this growing concern.
According to The Hartford’s Opioids in the Workplace Survey, 67% of HR professionals say that their companies are impacted by opioid use today or will be in the future. Two-third (64%) say they don’t feel well-trained to help workers addicted to opioids; and 76% of employees don’t believe they have adequate training or information.
HR leaders and employees have different perceptions about what a company should do about an addicted employee:
- 31% of HR pros think that an addicted employee should be terminated, while 46% of employees favor this action.
- 45% of HR leaders, compared to 31% of employees, say that treatment followed by a return to work is the answer.
- 37% of HR pros, versus 22% of employees, see ensuring the employee is closely monitored as the answer.
Interestingly, both HR leaders (44%) and employees (42%) generally agree about the value of probation/supervision.
What do the government rules/regs say about addiction and drug-testing? According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), examples of permissible drug testing include:
- Random drug testing.
- Drug testing unrelated to the reporting of a work-related injury or illness.
- Drug testing under a state workers’ compensation law.
- Drug testing under other federal law, such as a U.S. Department of Transportation rule.
- Drug testing to evaluate the root cause of a workplace incident that harmed or could have harmed employees.
There are a few steps you can take to help and protect your employees regarding opioids:
- Start by recognizing that substance abuse is a disease. Offer and promote the availability of health programs to help workers overcome dependency.
- Train supervisors and workers alike about the signs/symptoms of opioid abuse. These include slurred speech, drowsiness, shallow breathing, weight loss, and/or increased absenteeism or tardiness.
- Create and maintain a culture where workers feel safe admitting they have a problem and need help.
- Review drug testing failure policies and promote these to employees. Encourage self-reporting.