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Workers’ comp 101: Intoxication and injury at work

July 15, 2023
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It’s crucial for employers to prioritize a safe workplace. But even if you have taken every preventative step—an injury at work can still happen.

When workers don't follow safety procedures — or are under the influence — they greatly increase the risk of getting injured on the job.

Here’s a closer look at the essential information Colorado employers should know about injuries at work dealing with intoxication and workers' comp.

Intoxication does not disqualify workers' comp claims

Colorado law doesn't deny workers' comp benefits to injured employees, including workers who were under the influence during work hours.

However, if the employee's intoxication caused the injury, they may receive reduced indemnity, or lost time, benefits.

Dealing with an injury at work resulting from intoxication 

Do you have reason to believe your employee got injured due to intoxication or the use of a controlled substance? 

If you do, you'll need to submit proof of the individual's failure to follow workplace procedures.

Employers can request blood alcohol testing

While suspected intoxication in the workplace presents an uncomfortable situation, employers do have the right to ask for a blood-alcohol test.

Only request testing if you have noticed obvious signs of intoxication such as: 

  • Slurred speech
  • Staggering
  • Slowed reactions
  • Drastic changes in behavior, like aggression

Testing should also be strongly considered if you have witnessed drug or alcohol usage on the worksite. If a drug or alcohol test is done, the facility performing the test must store a second sample indefinitely.

Help prevent injury at work by setting clear expectations

In the best work environments, each team member knows what's expected. At a minimum, employers should post workplace rules in a prominent place.

When everyone is on the same page and you have a written record of clear expectations (especially regarding a drug and alcohol policy), it's easier to avoid incidents.

For best results, implement a training program for each new hire, and hold occasional workshops to refresh seasoned veterans.

Offering an Employee Assistance Program is also a great way to help support employee health and can reduce workers’ comp claims. Employee Assistance Programs help prevent numerous emotional and health-related problems that can lead to substance abuse.

Understanding workers' comp coverage

Employee use of drugs and alcohol can play a major role in causing injury at work and increasing workers' comp claims. While intoxication on the job is relatively rare, it's best to know where everyone stands with your coverage.

When you're ready to choose an insurance provider, our team at Pinnacol is here to help. We protect over 57,000 Colorado businesses with trusted workers’ compensation coverage.

Learn more about our offerings by using our free online quote application or connecting with one of our agent partners.

Get my quote

Pinnacol Assurance assumes no responsibility for management or control of customer safety activities. Please ensure your business meets the requirements of all federal, state, and local laws, regulations, or ordinances related to workplace safety.

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