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Porter Drug Free Symposium Addresses Drug-free Workplaces

The statistics are grim when it comes to employee drug use.

- Of employees who misuse drugs or alcohol, eighty percent steal from their employers.

- Alcohol and other drug abusers use three times as many sick days, absent an average of five days a month due to drug use.

- Substance abusers are one-third less productive.

- Drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace is responsible for 65 percent of accidents.

- Substance abusers are ten times more likely to steal from their employers or other places.

- Thirty-eight to fifty percent of all workman's compensation claims are the related to alcohol abuse or drugs on the job.

Substance abuse costs employers in terms of liability, insurance costs, poor performance, lower productivity and injuries.

Those unhealthy facts prompted a new initiative to prevent substance abuse in Porter County to meet with different sectors of the businesses community for their input.

“The business community wanted to know what their role was in preventing substance abuse,” said Heather Harrigan, executive director of Empower Porter County, an entity of the Porter County Community Foundation, which arose out of the meetings.

The result was Wednesday's Drug-Free Workplace Symposium at Porter Regional Health, Valparaiso. Several dozen business representatives attended the workshop where they learned the complicated ins and outs of legislation, resources for preventing drug abuse, drug testing and what policies they need to put in place to address and reduce substance abuse among employees.

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Presenters included Tina M. Bengs, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins; Ross MacLenna, CPCU, managing partner with MacLennan & Bain Insurance; Roberta Tuft, corporate health consultant at Porter Regional Health and Sandy Carlson, vice president of Clinical Services, Porter-Starke Services.

They identified the legalities, drug screening liability and workman's comp aspect, as well as alternatives to termination.

“There is an incredibly increasing need,” Harrigan said. “The safety and liability aspects to an employer are huge, if you have somebody who is under the influence. It's not just illicit drugs, but the use of prescription drugs that might not be your prescription or you might be using it inappropriately. Keeping the workplace safe is very important to that employer.”

At the close of Tuesday's symposium attendee Rick McSparin, SPHR, human resources manager at Starin, Chesterton, told Harrigan she, “Put up some startling statistics, for sure.”

McSparin said he read that seventy percent of substance abusers have a job.

“It's important to have a drug-free policy in place,” he said.

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Porter Regional Hospital
85 East U.S. Highway 6
Valparaiso, IN 46383
219 - 983 - 8300
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