Working Under the Influence? Small Businesses Face Sobriety Problem

There is a good chance that not all of your employees come to work each day clean and sober. Nearly 10 percent of small businesses had employees show up for work last year while under the influence of at least one controlled substance, according to a new study by small business insurance provider EMPLOYERS.

Alcohol, marijuana and prescription painkillers were the most common substances being used by employees.

Stephen Festa, EMPLOYERS' chief operating officer, said business owners are rightfully concerned about the use of illegal or judgment-impairing substances in their workplaces.

Working Under the Influence"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," Festa said. "Employees under the influence of these substances in the workplace not only pose a potential danger to themselves, but also to everyone else around them."

More than three-quarters of those surveyed agreed it's dangerous for their employees to be under the influence of marijuana, prescription painkillers, alcohol and illicit narcotics, such as heroin and cocaine, while at work. In addition, more than half said over-the-counter pain medications could also pose a danger to their employees.

Festa said prescription opioid abuse is of particular concern to those in the workers' compensation insurance industry.

"The Centers for Disease Control has reported that more people die from prescription painkillers than from heroin or cocaine," he said. "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."

The study was based on surveys of 502 small businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

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About the Author

Chad BrooksChad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter as well as on Google +.