Drugs and alcohol abuse is a psychological disorder that presents not only a major public health concern but also an occupational one. According to OSHA, “the vast majority of drug users are employed, and when they arrive for work, they don’t leave their problems at the door. Of the 17.2 million illicit drug users aged 18 or older in 2005, 12.9 million (74.8 percent) were employed either full or part time.” Working in hazardous and high risk environments such as construction sites, mining and high voltage work zones are even greater concern for occupational safety guidelines. To help eliminate or reduce the risk of unwarranted accidents, injuries and casualties, substance abuse awareness and prevention programs are vital. Although drug abuse and the use of other paraphernalia are not required by OSHA standards, it wholesomely encourages the need for a safe and healthy work environment.
Some examples of substance abuse include;
- 1.Drinking alcoholic beverages on site
- 3.The consumption or distribution of illegal drugs and other medicinal use
Reported incidents of Substance abuse and Implications.
There are several examples that be sited regarding substance abuse on job sites and the possible outcome of such practices. Smoking a cigar is not allowed on site but is often practiced off site because it does not cause direct impaired judgment. Due to the high levels of intoxication that can result from alcohol consumption, the practice is prohibited on and off sites. All illegal drugs such as cocaine and marijuana which both can be harmful and result in intoxication are band. Some outcome that can result from substance abuse on job sites are:
- 2.Death/fatal accidents
- 4.Loss of production
Other medicinal use prescribed by a Doctor should be duly noted by your superior and the necessary precautions taken.
Substance abuse awareness and prevention programs
Although it is a major financial strain on the employer to provide a safety program and training, it can be quite effective. This is true for small companies who find it difficult to finance these programs due to the constraints of limited resources. In sensitizing your workforce on best work practices, this can reduce the risk of possible law suits, loss in productivity and other disciplinary procedures.
According to OSHA “A comprehensive drug-free workforce approach includes five components:
- 1.A policy
- 2.Supervisor training
- 3.Employee education
- 4.Employee assistance
- 5.Drug testing.
Such programs, especially when drug testing is included, must be reasonable and take into consideration employee rights to privacy. Rules must also be implemented by employers to maintain order and compliance and once breached disciplinary actions must be taken to prevent recurrence.
Scenarios of what is “OK” and what is “NOT OK” on and off job sites.
Scenario 1: John is a Boil maker on a construction site and on his lunch break John decides to have a turkey ham sandwich pairing that with a refreshing beer. Is this ok or not ok and why?
Answer: NOT OK to drink on and off job sites. John needs to ensure that when he returns to work he is 100% sober and capable of doing his job effectively without harming himself and others around him.
Scenario 2: Paul is a certified electrician who started smoking off site and half way into smoking his cigar decides to complete smoking that same cigar on site. Is this ok or not ok and why?
Answer: NOT OK to smoke on site. Paul needs to ensure that he does not wonder onto the job site with a cigar given the number of hazardous chemicals that can cause a huge fire and caused bodily injury to workers.