Infectious Diseases

With many employees traveling to and from international destination monitoring and controlling infectious diseases like Ebola and SARS has become an important safety issue.

Employers can take steps to prevent the entry or spread of infectious diseases like these into their workplaces. These include:

1) Closely monitor Centers for diseases control (CDC) travel alerts. The CDC issues travel advisories (which may recommend deferring nonessential travel) and travel alerts (which simply inform travelers of health concerns and provides precautions) Access this information at
2) Provide daily medical screenings for employees returning form SARS or other infected areas.
3) Deny access to your facility for 10 days to employees or visitors returning from affected areas particularly those who have had contact with suspected infected individuals.
4) Tell employees to stay home if they have a fever or respiratory system symptoms
5) Clean work areas and surface regularly.
6) Stagger breaks. Offer several lunch periods to reduce over crowding.
7) Emphasizes to employees the importance of frequent hand washing and make sanitizers containing alcohol easily available throughout the workplace

Alcoholism and substance abuse:

Alcoholism and substance abuse are serious and widespread problems at work. A recent study concluded that about 15% of the US workforce (just over 19 million workers) has either been hung over at work, been drinking shortly before showing up for work, or been drinking or impaired while on the job at least once during the previous year. While the percentage of full time US workers engaging in illegal drug use has reportedly dropped in last 15 years or so, about 15% of workers still report having used illicit drugs in one recent year. Drug using employees are over three and a half times more likely to be involved in workplace accidents, Some experts estimate that as many as 50% of all problematic employees are actually alcoholics One estimate places the cost of a substance abuser’s damage to a company at $7,000 per abuser per year.

Effects of Alcohol Abuse:

The effects of alcoholism on the worker and work are severe. Both the quality and quantity of the work decline in the face of a job absenteeism. The alcoholic’s on the job accidents usually don’t increase significantly apparently because he or she becomes much more cautious. However, the off the job accident rate is higher than for non alcoholics. Morale of other workers drops as they have to shoulder the alcoholic’s burden.

Recognizing the alcoholic on the job is a problem. Early symptoms such as tardiness are similar to those of other problems and thus hard to classify. The supervisor is not a psychiatrist and without specialized training, identifying – and dealing with – the alcoholic is difficult.

Table presents a chart showing observable behavior patterns that indicates alcohol related problems .As you can see alcohol related problems range from tardiness in the earliest stages of alcohol abuse to prolonged unpredictable absences in its later stages

Dealing with substance abuse:

Most firms test applicants and (often) current employees for drugs.

Such testing is generally effective. Pre-employment drug testing discourages those on drugs from applying for work or coming to work for employers who do testing. One study found that over 30% of regular drug users employed full time said they were less likely to work for a company that conducted pre-employment screening. Some applicants or employees may try to evade the test for instance by purchasing clean specimens to use. Several states including New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, Oregon, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Texas and Nebraska have laws making drug test fraud a crime.