Whether or not this bothers the individual, it puts a burden on the workplace and community. Scherrer and Darke County Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker were the featured speakers at the Darke County Chamber of Commerce 7th Annual Ground Hog Day Breakfast at Romer’s Catering Jan. 31. They addressed the topic of Drugs in the Workplace, “Drugs don’t Work.”
While Scherrer focused on the workplace costs associated with drugs, Whittaker’s focus was more on the costs to the individual and society. “Of the 32 incarcerated in jail right now, 60 percent are there because of drug charges or drug related issues,” he said. Since 1996, 77 people have died from “accidental” deaths: prescription and street drugs. Street drugs include methadone, oxycontin, cocaine, heroin and more.
“Drugs are killing people but what about the people on disability due to overdose? We resuscitate but brain damage does exist. We’re seeing it.”
Both Scherrer and Whittaker noted the depth of the problem. Even if the employee is drug free, chances are someone in his or her family has some kind of drug issue. “Family emergencies” take someone off the job just the same as if they were sick themselves.
“An absent employee is a totally non-productive employee,” Scherrer said.
Aleene Cromwell, ACT-1 REALTY and past president of the Darke County Association of REALTORS®, noted the increased concern over holding open houses. Often people will leave medications on their kitchen counters or tables, especially for convenience if taken daily, as well as leaving other personal items out, such as laptops. They should be put out of sight. She noted sometimes two people will come in; one will keep the on-site realtor busy while the other “looks around” for these items.
Prior to the presentations of the speakers Greenville Police Chief Dennis Butts said the department started an Ohio Prescription Drug Drop Box Program in April. It is located in the Police Department Lobby.
Since then people have dropped in 58.75 lbs. of pills. Syringes and liquids cannot be accepted.
Butts also noted the department’s activity related to drugs is “extremely high… possibly as high as 90 percent.”
Ohio is taking an active role in dealing with drug-related issues. According to State Representative Jim Buchy, 12 legislative acts are being reviewed regarding prescribing opioids and other drugs, as well as prevention and recovery. Among them are a required review of a State Board of Pharmacy database prior to prescribing any schedule II drug, verifying ID of any person picking up a controlled substance prescription, and grants of immunity from a minor drug possession offense for any individual assisting another person having a drug-induced medical emergency.
HB223 puts the burden of proof on employees to prove alcohol or drugs were not the proximate cause of a workplace injury. Employers can ask for disallowance of a workers’ compensation claim by an employee who tests positive on a qualifying chemical test, or refuses to take one.
The Darke County Recovery Center is available to individuals and employers to help deal with the problem. Some of its services include individual consultation and counseling, group education, critical incident stress debriefing, drug screening and drug free workplace compliance training.
Scherrer’s more detailed presentation is published separately. Whittaker’s will be published Feb. 16.