Concerns Grow With More Workers Impaired By Prescription Drugs

When Jacobsen Construction Co. Inc. started an opioid drug testing program last year, the firm gained a tool to help its 400 workers avoid accidents.

Mat Guerrero, safety manager for the Salt Lake City company, said Jacobsen has long conducted employee drug tests. But with opioid use on the rise among construction workers in the area, Jacobsen expanded its program to keep impaired workers out of hazardous work sites.

“It used to be everyone was concerned about illegal drugs, and now the ones we worry about are in people’s medicine cabinets,” said Mr. Guerrero, whose company does pre-employment, random and post-accident testing.

Opioid testing is becoming more common among employers looking to increase job safety and reduce workers’ compensation costs, experts say.

“Avoiding one really serious claim due to an impaired worker basically pays for your drug testing program,” said Mark Semonisck, senior loss control consultant for Kansas City, Mo.-based brokerage Lockton Cos. L.L.C.