OSHA's View on Substance Abuse

The most recent numbers from the BLS show that unintentional overdoses due to nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol while at work increased to 305 in 2018, up 12 percent from 2017. This marks the sixth consecutive annual increase in drug or alcohol-related deaths.

Industries with the highest rates of drug use are the same as those at high risk for occupational injuries, such as construction, mining, manufacturing and wholesale.

OSHA recognizes that impairment by drug or alcohol use can constitute an avoidable workplace hazard and that drug-free workplace programs can help improve worker safety and health. Therefore, the agency strongly supports comprehensive drug-free workforce programs, especially within certain workplace environments, such as those involving safety-sensitive duties like operating machinery.

A comprehensive drug-free workforce approach includes five components — a policy, supervisor training, employee education, employee assistance and drug testing. Such programs, especially when drug testing is included, must be reasonable and also consider employee rights to privacy.

OSHA believes that many workers with substance abuse problems can be returned safely to the workplace, provided they have access to appropriate treatment, continuing care and supportive services. Drug-free workplace programs work naturally with initiatives that help to ensure safe and healthy workplaces and add value to American businesses.