Over the last 3.5 years, the program has protected us from six worker’s comp claims. It has more than paid for itself and we appreciate all the support and professionalism from DSG.

Financial Controller - Paper packaging company - 100 employees

Stats & Stories



Substance abuse is the use of illegal drugs, the misuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs and the use of alcohol so that it affects the ability of an individual to do his or her job.

93% of businesses are affected by substance abuse
Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry

70% of illegal drug users are employed
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Statistics Sourcebook)


Substance abusers represent approximately 17% of the average workforce and cost a company on average $7,000 per person/year, excluding impacts such as turnover, morale, a major accident or lawsuit (U.S. Navy Personnel Research & Development Center). This is based on substance abusers:

  • Accidents: Cause 35% of all industrial injuries and fatalities
    Eighth Special Report to the U.S. Congress on Alcohol and Health
  • Absenteeism: Responsible for 35% of all absenteeism and 5 times more likely to be absent
    U.S. Department of Labor. What Works: Workplaces Without Drug
  • Workers’ Comp: Cause 38%-50% of all claims and are 5 times more likely to submit a claim
    National Council on Compensation Insurance
  • Medical Benefits: Incur 300% more medical costs and use benefits 8 times more often
    U.S. Department of Labor
  • Pilferage: Account for 40% of all theft
    U.S. Department of Labor. What Works: Workplaces Without Drugs
  • Productivity: Perform at 67% of their potential – 1/3 less productive
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Statistics Sourcebook)


In today’s legal environment the employer is responsible for defining the rules relating to drugs and alcohol and for knowing that each employee can do the job he or she has been hired to do. Here are some landmark cases:

Exxon: “Should Have Known”

The Scenario: In the case of the Exxon Valdez, the court ruled that although there was no indication that Captain Hazelwood was drinking while in treatment for his alcoholism and in command of the Exxon Valdez, the company “should have known.”

The Outcome: Because the court held Exxon responsible, the company was fined, separate from compensatory damages, $5.5 billion in punitive damages — about one year’s profits for Exxon.

Carroll Air Systems:” Scope of Employment”

The Scenario: A salesman and his boss took two clients to dinner during a convention. While driving back to his hotel after dinner, the salesman had an accident, killing someone. He tested above .10 on a blood-alcohol test. The courts determined that 1) he was conducting company business, and 2) that there were not any company rules telling the salesman how much he was allowed to drink while representing the company, and therefore, was not violating any company rules. Further, the court held that the company actually encouraged drinking by picking up the tab. Since the salesman was not violating any rules, the court reasoned, then he was acting within the scope of his employment. The company was held responsible.

The Outcome: The company ended up paying out $85,000 in compensatory damages and $800,000 in punitive damages. Punitive damages are not covered by most insurance policies.

A-Able Rents Company: “Should Have Known”

The Scenario: An employee of A-Able Rents, who was assigned to remove rental furniture, assaulted and attempted to rape a customer while on duty. He admitted to smoking crack cocaine before the attack. The employee had been terminated from his prior employment as a truck driver due to his admitted crack use and his refusal to submit to a drug test. The rental company never contacted the previous employer.

The Outcome: The court expressly stated that failure to conduct the pre-employment investigation directly contributed to the violence. It also ruled that punitive damages may be proper.

Cianbro-Williams Bros.: “Scope of Employment”

The Scenario: A company had a drug and alcohol policy. Despite the policy, 10 or 12 employees regularly met in the company parking lot after hours to drink beer. These employees “passed the hat” to pay for the alcohol, and the supervisors were not only aware of the activity, but also on occasion participated.

One night, one of the employees left the gathering and on his way home his car crossed the center line and ran head-on into another vehicle. One occupant of the vehicle was killed and the two others were severely injured.

The Outcome: The court ruled that the company knew of and approved of the employees’ off-hour drinking and was therefore negligent.


  • Cornell University says:
    Construction companies that drug test reduce the rate of workplace injuries by 51%. Further, these companies experienced an 11.41% decline in their workers’ compensation experience-rating modification factor. (Similar results can be anticipated for any industry employing safety-sensitive workers).

  • U.S. Department of Labor says:
    Substance abusers incur 300% more medical costs than non-abusers.

  • Journal of Forensic Sciences says:
    A random sampling of fatally injured truck drivers showed that 35% of the drivers had drugs/alcohol in their system at the time of the accident, and in 89% of the accidents, the drug/alcohol contributed to the cause of the accident.

  • National Transportation Safety Board says:
    One out of 4 heavy-truck drivers killed in work-related accidents have at least one drug (excluding alcohol) in their system, contributing to the accident.

  • U.S. Navy says:
    A study of the Navy’s drug policy reports that ~56.5% of drug abuse is deterred by testing.

  • U.S. Postal Service says:
    A study of US Postal Service workers demonstrated workers who test positive for marijuana have 55% more accidents, 85% more on-the-job injuries, and a 78% higher rate of absenteeism when compared to their non-using (based on pre-employment tests) co-workers. Workers who tested positive for cocaine on pre-employment tests have an 85% higher rate of on-the-job injuries and a 145% higher rate of absenteeism.

  • Conference Board says:
    On average, compared with their non-addicted counterparts, substance abusers consume 3 times the medical benefits, are 5 times more likely to file workers’ compensation claims, experience 7 times as many garnishments, and are repeatedly involved in grievance procedures.

Drug-Free Solutions Group, LLC
2795 Clearbrook Circle
Delray Beach, FL 33445
(T) 561.266.5111
(F) 561-330-6533

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