For many years after the Great Recession, there were far more qualified job applicants than available positions. This was especially the case for blue collar fields such as manufacturing. Now that the economy has bounced back, there are plenty of open positions at some companies, but they aren’t being filled fast enough. For at least one Ohio business, the reason is that they can’t find enough sober applicants that will pass a drug test.
CNN recently interviewed Regina Mitchell, co-owner of Warren Fabricating & Machining in Hubbard, Ohio to discuss the impact of America’s growing opioid epidemic on her business.
“I need employees who are engaged in their work while here, of sound mind and doing the best possible job that they can, keeping their fellow co-workers safe at all times,” she said. A critical part of that is making sure that her employees are not under the influence of illegal drugs while operating heavy and intensely dangerous machinery.
Mitchell told the New York Times and CNN that four out of 10 applicants fail a routine drug test. “This opioid epidemic that we’re experiencing … it seems like it’s worse than in other places all over the country,” Mitchell said.
The numbers bear out Mitchell’s feelings. Ohio has one of the nation’s highest overdose and fatality rates from opioids, a situation which seems to be getting worse.
Mitchell says that Ohio’s recent legalization of medical marijuana has made the situation even more confounding for employers. “We don’t have an affordable test that tells me if they smoked it over the weekend or smoked it in the morning before they came to work, and I just can’t take the chance of having an impaired worker running a crane carrying a 300,000-pound steel encasement,” she said.
Unfortunately for employers in Mahoning County, it seems as though many of their 12,000 open skilled labor jobs will remain that way for now.
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