According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. deaths from unintentional overdoses of drugs and alcohol at the workplace rose more than 30% in 2016. Reporting on statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Census of Fatal Occupational injuries, the WSJ noted that 217 workers died from such overdoses in 2016, up from 165 the year before and triple the number since the government agency started keeping statistics on overdose deaths in 2011. Although representing only a small portion of the more than 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016, these numbers point to a significant problem of impaired workers who pose a danger not only to themselves but also to co-workers and others at their job.
Workers' compensation laws, at least in Georgia, provide compensation when a worker is injured or killed while in the course and scope of their job, assuming the employer not subject to an exclusion under the Workers' Compensation Act. But an injury or death caused by drug or alcohol intoxication is unlikely to be compensable because the death was not job-related. Others who are injured by an impaired worker may be able to obtain compensation under the workers' compensation system, but that system is usually the exclusive remedy against an employer. If a non-employee, such as a visitor or employee of a separate contractor, is injured due to an impaired employee, however, the injured person may be able to obtain compensation against the employee or that employee's company if it can be shown that the company was aware that its employee was impaired while on the job. This could also apply outside of the work site, for example, if an impaired employee caused a car accident while on work business.