Booze and drugs might seem like a good time, but they can lead to a real downer if you mix these substances with your work life.
If you are considered “under the influence” of drugs or alcohol when—as a result of consuming any amount of alcohol or drugs—your mental or physical faculties are so impaired that it reduces your ability to think and act with ordinary care.
What happens when we are impaired in this way? Accidents! Injuries to ourselves and others around us. Yep, pain and suffering, folks.
What does Ohio workers’ compensation law say about anyone who is injured while under the influence?
Here it is: R.C. 4123.54(A) (2) says that an injury occurring at work is not compensable if it is “caused by the employee being intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance not prescribed by a physician, where the intoxication or being under the influence of the controlled substance not prescribed by a physician was the proximate cause of the injury. . . .” In layman’s terms, if you come to work impaired, can’t function with ordinary care and get injured as a result, your claim will be denied. That will sober you up pretty fast.
Drug use may impact a worker’s compensation claim even if there is no proof that the injured worker was impaired at the time of the injury. For example, you may be fired. This is considered a voluntary dismissal. This may lead to an injured worker being denied a workers’ compensation claim or the lost wages that they would otherwise be entitled to.
Think about this: An injured worker submits to a drug/alcohol test at the time of the injury and it is negative, but then takes the test another time and is found to be positive for a controlled substance. The employee may be immediately terminated, as this violates company policy. Meanwhile, the injury claim is being adjudicated. It is determined that the termination constitutes voluntary dismissal, and the injured worker may not be paid for their lost time.
Laws that were created to protect injured workers’ cannot protect you if you choose to go to work while under the influence. So be sensible, people! Don’t show up for work stoned or trashed. It’s the best way to make sure that you are completely protected from all workplace injuries.
The son of a Youngstown steelworker who worked himself in steel mills as a young man, Joseph A. Moro is acutely aware of the challenges that working people face and the dire impacts that injuries and impairments can have on them and their families. After he earned his undergraduate degree from Youngstown State University and his law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, Joseph has largely dedicated his practice to handling workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. He is a fluent Spanish speaker who is certified as a Workers’ Compensation Specialist by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) as well as a certified Veterans Affairs Representative. He currently serves as the OAJ Regional Representative for Youngstown-Warren and on the OSBA Workers’ Compensation Specialty Board.