Substance use can have a significant impact on the workplace. It affects employers, employees and potentially the public. The type of substance use can vary in its severity from an employee drinking alcohol during a business lunch to an employee affected by an addiction to opioids. Employers can feel the impact through lost productivity, through the lowered morale of employees or through the compromised safety of the public.
Substance use is not the only type of impairment (e.g., fatigue, stress, family crisis) that can affect the workplace. Employers typically do not receive nor should they be expected to receive training in recognizing the different types of impairment. While they should be prepared to observe and identify impairment, they should leave diagnoses up to professionals.
Using the proper resources to assist them, employers can help their staff deal with impairment in the workplace by developing comprehensive policies that focus on prevention and education, by reducing the stigma surrounding substance use and by improving employee supports.
The Canadian Substance Use Costs and Harms: 2007–2014 report estimates that lost productivity to businesses attributable to substance use in 2014 was $15.7 billion dollars. With the recent legalization of cannabis, many employers are re-examining their policies and best practices related to substance use and fitness for duty/impairment more broadly to ensure that they are comprehensive and effective.
To help employers, CCSA conducted a review of Canadian workplace policies and best practices to find out what employers were doing to address substance use and the workplace. Review key findings from the report or download the full report below.
Substance Use and the Workplace: Supporting Employers and Employees in the Trades
The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction partnered with Health Canada to produce Substance Use and the Workplace: Supporting Employers and Employees in the Trades, a collection of resources to help reduce the harms of substance use for Canadians, particularly those working in construction and the trades.
Targeting both employers and workers, the package includes information from more than 30 organizations to help:
- Educate employees about substances and their effects,
- Prevent substance use harms,
- Address employee substance use,
- Find services and supports, and
- Access related information from key reports and organizations.
Substance Use on the Jobsite: Challenges and Support Measures
Created in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), this podcast explores the relationship between those working in the trades and substance use. Construction workers and those working in jobs with many physical demands may experience injury or chronic pain at a higher rate. Without proper guidance, those who use opioids or other substances to manage this pain may be at an increased risk of experiencing harms. Listen to the podcast conversation with CCSA experts to learn more about the use of opioids, cannabis and alcohol as it affects workers on the jobsite; the challenges around substance use faced by workers and employers; and how workplaces can support their employees’ health and safety.