Drug use at work factoring more into injuries - East Valley Tribune: Business

Drug use at work factoring more into injuries

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Posted: Wednesday, March 8, 2006 5:48 am | Updated: 3:19 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Drug use at the workplace is resulting in a growing number of injuries as well as more workers’ compensation claims in Arizona and the Valley, the head of a workers’ compensation company says.

“Drugs, especially crystal methamphetamine, is a huge problem and it’s getting bigger,” said Donald Smith, president of SCF Arizona, co-sponsor of a two-day Safety Works Expo at Centennial Hall in Mesa.

Smith, whose company provides workers’ compensation insurance for 55,000 firms in Arizona, including 38,000 in the Valley, said companies should focus on reducing employee drug use by establishing anti-drug programs.

The firms pay more than $400 million annually to SCF Arizona for workers’ compensation insurance protection, Smith said.

“Our goal is to build a culture of workplace safety in Arizona,” said Smith, whose company also invests more than $3 billion in assets for participating Arizona companies and their employees.

Another growing number of workers’ compensation claims is traced to the increasing number of employees in the Valley and Arizona, said Darin Perkins, director of the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

“We’re stressing that employers concentrate on safety training programs, especially for Hispanics and construction jobs,” said Perkins, who noted that one in four construction workers in the Valley is Hispanic.

“And the training programs should be in their native language,” Perkins added.

Perkins, whose office investigates workers’ compensation claims, said in 1999 only 10 discrimination complaints were filed with the division. Last year, complaints totaled 70.

More than 500 employees representing dozens of Valley companies have attended the fourth annual safety seminar that concludes today and was also sponsored by the American Society of Safety Engineers.

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