Alcohol and drug use hurting Michigan skilled trades

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Alcohol and drug use hurting Michigan skilled trades

Alcohol and drug use hurting Michigan skilled trades

 Despite the high demand for skilled trade workers in Macomb County, Mich. almost half of all applicants are turned away for failing drug tests.

The problem is so bad, many job seekers don’t even bother with an interview when drug tests are required, according to an article by Bridge Magazine, a Michigan-based publication identifying critical issues in the workforce. The publication also cites a study that shows only one-in-four workplaces screen for drugs in Traverse City.

There are many issues associated with hiring a worker who abuses drugs or alcohol, including the potential for serious injury, difficulty in cooperating with co-workers, and a notable loss of efficiency.

The potential for serious injury

 Occupational injuries are a grave health issue that can lead to life-long suffering or death. Employees who abuse alcohol or drugs are at a higher risk for accidents and injuries. While some industries, like manufacturing and construction, have many opportunities for work, these jobs often require a drug test for anyone operating a vehicle.

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A challenge for those addicted to drugs and alcohol is balancing work with treatment. Treatment takes time away that could be spent at a job. Even those going through drug withdrawal have difficulty functioning at work and are at a higher risk for workplace injuries.

The impaired judgment that comes with drug and alcohol abuse can also affect co-workers. One-fifth of skilled labour workers and managers have reported a co-worker’s drinking — before or during work — has negatively affected their safety, according to an article by Tomo Drug Testing, a drug and alcohol screening service for the workplace.

Difficulty cooperating with co-workers

 Substance abuse can change a person’s behaviour, to the point of becoming aggressive with other co-workers, or withdrawing socially. This can also lead to poor hygiene and low productivity. There are also physical withdrawal symptoms, such as restlessness, fatigue, and poor concentration.

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The risks of working with someone who is under the influence or intoxicated are great. Alcohol and drug abuse has been linked to aggression, disrespectful behaviour, and even sexual harassment in the workplace, according to Very Well Mind, an online mental health editorial resource.

Workplace culture can contribute to alcohol and drug abuse. A male-dominated workplace is more prone to heavy drinking, while the risk with a mixed-gender workforce is far less, according to Very Well Mind. A workplace with low supervision is also susceptible to alcohol and drug abuse on the job.

 A loss in efficiency

Substance abuse can also lead to two-and-a-half times more absenteeism, according to Tomo Drug Testing. But using comprehensive health programs has shown a profound effect in Ohio. Substance abuse treatment in that state resulted in 91 per cent decrease in absenteeism and a 97 per cent decrease in on-the-job injuries, according to Very Well Mind.

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Substance abuse costs employers an average of $13,000, and the American economy $100 billion annually, according to EHS Today, a resource for environment, health and safety practices. These preventative measures, if more widespread, could reduce workplace substance abuse and aid the productivity, safety and well-being of workers in the skilled labour industry.

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