by Nardia Vescovi-Diss
Unless you’ve been somewhere with no access to the outside world over the past few years, you will be aware that drugs in our society are an escalating issue. There is still a perception held by some people that the issues are limited to certain ‘sections’ of society, either geographically, culturally or with respect to age perhaps. The reality is that anyone, anywhere, can be impacted by drugs and, in all likelihood, there will be someone now, or in the near future, in your workplace who will be abusing drugs.
The questions you need to be asking are, what’s my responsibility as an employer, what can I do to prevent it, and what can I do if it happens?
Remember, all employers have a duty of care to provide a safe workplace for their employees and anyone who may be attending the premises, which means that if you do believe that someone is abusing drugs, or under the influence, you are obliged to act. But how will you know?
We were fortunate to be able to talk to Dr Charles Appleton who is the Pathologist in Charge of Biochemistry at Queensland Medical Laboratory (QML), and he’s given us some common signs to look out for:
- Frequent tardiness, unexplained absences, frequent sick leave especially 1-2 days following the weekend
- Inconsistent performance at work
- Frequent, longer or unexplained breaks during work
- Frequent small accidents resulting in minor injuries or broken objects
- Unusual physical symptoms or behaviours (unsteady gait, hyperactive/manic activity, sudden weight loss, dental problems, wearing long sleeves on hot days, etc.)
- A sudden lack of concern about personal appearance and hygiene
- Behavioural changes (e.g. aggression, depression, paranoia,).
- Over-reaction to criticism or helpful suggestions
- Lower levels of productivity in the morning; a general sluggishness when first reporting to work
- Bloodshot eyes, or bags under the eyes indicating a lack of sleep
- Presence of drug taking paraphernalia in the workplace (e.g. bongs, needles, foils)
- Frequent requests for pay advances
Dr Appleton also cites that Employees with a drug problem may also be:
- Absent from work 2-8 times as frequently
- Late 3 times as much
- Have productivity that is 20-25% lower than usual
These have huge implications for any business, but for our SME’s this is greatly amplified.
Is this ringing any alarm bells for you? Does your business have in place a policy and procedure to guide you through managing this problem? Are you confident that your processes will stand up if challenged?
Why wait until you’re facing this problem, because then it’s too late! Talk to one of our Employee Experts now, to find out if you’re prepared.
In the next blog we will talk about what steps you can take to try and prevent these issues, when you can and should test for drugs, and what and who needs to be involved.