Court ruling jeopardizes workplace safety, insurers say
PCI Regional Vice President Sam Sorich noted that the court struck down the 1999 law that denied workersâ€™ compensation benefits to injured workers who had either refused to take a drug or alcohol test or failed the test.
The court ruled that the law is unconstitutional because it deprives an injured worker of his or her constitutional rights to workersâ€™ compensation benefits.
"Virtually no injury caused in the workplace while an employee is under the improper influence of illicit drugs or alcohol is ever truly an accident," said Sorich, pointing to a March 21, 2005, friend-of-the-court brief filed in the case by PCI.
OSHA defines injuries resulting from impairment by drug or alcohol use at the workplace, not as accidents, but rather as avoidable workplace hazards.
"Striking down this law sends the wrong message to Arizona residents that they may place themselves, their co-workers and the public at a significant and unjustifiable risk of serious and substantial harm by going to work drunk or high without fear of losing workers' compensation benefits. Without this law, Arizona workplaces are more dangerous," Sorich said.