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Substance Abuse and Workers Compensation Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Wed, Sep 10, 2014

The Cost of Substance Abuse in the Workplace

The cost of substance abuse in the workplace is staggering. Consider the impace on workers compensation insurance costs.The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) estimates that drug abuse in the workplace costs business owners $81 billion annually.  

Studies show that substance abusers miss work more often, use more sick leave, and arrive late more frequently than their coworkers.  Substance abusers are more likely to injure themselves or others and file more workers compensation insurance claims. 


Double the Worker's Compensation Insurance Cost

It’s estimated that substance abusers cost employers twice as much in medical and workers compensation claims as their drug-free counterparts.  And finally, substance abusers are considerably less productive than their drug-free co-workers. 

Although Pennsylvania does not have a state law that regulates, requires, or prohibits drug testing or any drug-free workplace programs, companies that implement a drug-free workplace initiative can improve their bottom line, increase productivity, and develop healthier employees.  A program may include supervisor training, employee education, drug testing, and/or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). 

The Cost of a Drug-Free Workplace Initiative

The cost of a drug-free workplace will vary depending on the size of your initiative, your response level, and available community, state, and federal resources.   Costs may include policy development, employee education, management training, employee assistance, and drug testing. 

However, a study of the economic impact of a drug-free workplace initiative in Ohio found significant improvements in job-related performance:

  • A 91 percent decrease in absenteeism
  • An 88 percent decrease in problems with supervisors
  • A 93 percent decrease in mistakes in work
  • A 97 percent decrease in on-the-job injuries

Risks of NOT Implementing a Drug-Free Workplace Initiative

The cost of implementing a drug-free workplace program should be weighed against the cost of not implementing a program.  For many small businesses, one serious accident or one troubled employee can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and jeopardize the future of that company. 

How to Create a Drug-Free Workplace Initiative

  • Drug-free workplace policy - Establish written policies and procedures that prohibit the abuse of alcohol or illegal use of drugs. Ensure that all employees and potential applicants read and understand the policy and that compliance with the policy is a condition of employment.  The US Department of Labor has a “Drug-Free Workplace Policy Builder” at

  • Supervisor Training – Supervisors closest to the workforce should be trained on your drug free workplace initiative and their role in its implementation.   They should also be taught the signs, symptoms, behavior changes, and performance problems associated with drug or alcohol abuse and what to do when they see those signs.

  • Employee Education - An employee education session should describe the impact that alcohol abuse and drug use has on the workplace, provide information about addiction and the major drugs of abuse, and include your company’s drug and alcohol policies.

  • EAP – An Employee Assistance Program is a worksite-focused program designed to identify and resolve productivity problems associated with personal problems, such as alcohol and/or drug abuse, which often includes counseling and referral programs.

  • Drug Testing – A drug and/or alcohol testing program may detect or deter drug and/or alcohol use or abuse.  Drug testing works best when used in conjunction with the other initiatives listed above.

Additional Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism -

National Institute on Drug Abuse –

Contact Us to Improve Your Bottom Line

Contact us to lower your workers compensation insurance costs. We serve Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, York, Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond.A drug-free workplace initiative can create a healthier workforce and improve your company’s bottom line, including lowering your workers compensation insurance claims and costs. 

For more information about controlling your workers’ compensation insurance costs, contact us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Business Insurance Reading PA, Business Insurance Berks, Business Insurance Philadelphia Pa, Business Insurance Lancaster Pa, Business Insurance Harrisburg Pa, Business Insurance York Pa, Commercial Insurance, Business Insurance Allentown PA, Business Insurance