Checklist: Detecting Employee Substance Abuse
Supervisors need to be alert to patterns of employee job performance deterioration, physical signs, and behavioral characteristics that may signal a worker with a substance abuse problem. The following checklist, developed by the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation as part of a drug-free workplace program, may assist training supervisors in detecting employee substance abuse. 5
- Job Performance Deterioration
- Absenteeism. Unauthorized leave, excessive sick leave, Monday and Friday absences, repeated absence of two to four days or one to two weeks, excessive tardiness, especially on Monday or after lunch, leaving work early, peculiar and increasingly improbable excuses for absence and frequent unscheduled short-term absence with or without medical excuse.
- “On-the-job” absenteeism. Unnecessary absence from the work station, frequent trips to the water fountain or rest rooms, long breaks, physical illness on the job, and returning to work in an obviously abnormal condition.
- High accident rate. Accidents on the job, frequent need for first aid, and off-the-job accidents that affect job performance.
- Difficulty in concentration. Work requires greater effort, the job takes more time, and hand tremors are apparent during concentration.
- Confusion. Difficulty with instructions, details, handling complex assignments, or recalling mistakes.
- Spasmodic work patterns. Alternate periods of very high and very low productivity.
- Tenacity to job. Inflexibility about changing jobs because control of the present job facilitates covering up poor job performance.
- Lowered job efficiency. Missed deadlines, mistakes due to inattention and poor judgment, wasted materials, bad decisions, complaints from customers and coworkers, and improbable excuses for poor performance.
- Poor employee relations. Friction in relationships with coworkers resulting in decreased performance and efficiency, overreaction to real or imagined criticism, wide swings in morale, borrowing money from coworkers, complaints from coworkers, and unreasonable resentments.
- Physical Signs Associated with Substance Abuse
- Appearance. Deterioration of physical appearance and grooming, wearing sunglasses at work, wearing long-sleeve clothes in hot weather, and reluctance to wear short-sleeve attire when appropriate.
- Eyes. Difficulty focusing, glazed appearance of the eyes, red eyes, and dilated or constricted pupils.
- Nose and mouth. Dry mouth, frequent lip licking, dry nose, runny nose, chronic nasal problems, and nosebleeds or red nostrils.
- Skin. Flushed skin, scars and tracks, excessive perspiration or body odor.
- Drowsiness. Sleepy or stuporous condition, slurred speech, and lethargy or drowsiness.
- Behavioral Characteristics Associated with Substance Abuse.
- Aggressive behavior. Unusual flare-ups and outbreaks of temper, irritability, loud or aggressive behavior, competitive or argumentative behavior, unusual talkativeness, conversations lacking continuity, agitation, fear, paranoia, and nervousness.
- Passive behavior. Uncharacteristically passive behavior, withdrawal from responsibility, memory loss, deadened sensory perception, disorientation, and lack of interest in food or sleep.
- Relationships. Association with known substance abusers, stealing from the employer, and interpersonal relationship problems with coworkers and family.
5 “How to Build a Drug-Free Workplace,” by Special Agent Tom Pool, Washington Drug-Free Business, excerpted from Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation’s Creating a Drug-Free Workplace .
Reposted with permission from Wolters Kluwer.
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