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Risk Management Bulletin


By November 5, 2013No Comments

That’s how much the federal government estimates that drug and alcohol abuse costs American businesses. Nearly three in four adult abusers are employed, some of them perhaps by you! You might know these people by their absenteeism rate: they’re off the job at 2.5 times the rate of the average employee. There is no federal drug-free workplace law for private employees, however some states have implemented their own statutes. There is the voluntary approach as well, you can reduce workers comp premiums for businesses that ban drugs on the job.

A drug-free workplace program should follow these guidelines:

    1. Set a strict ban on abuse of alcohol and use of illegal drugs. Outline how you will reinforce the policy and the consequences for violating it.
    2. Develop a testing program. Decide whom to test, when to test (e.g. pre-employment, random, regular, reasonable suspicion, or incident-related), who will do the testing (preferably a certified independent lab), and what will happen after a positive finding.
    3. Decide what to with violators. Some businesses discipline or terminate drug abusers. Others, who see these workers as worth rehabilitating, set up employee assistance programs (EAPs) to deal with drug and alcohol issues off site.
    4. Define the role of supervisors. Because line managers will probably be the first to notice the signs of abuse, educate them on what to look for, how to document what they witness and how to properly deal with the situation. However, they should not diagnose what are essentially medical issues, or counsel abusers.
    5. Communicate with employees. Make sure they know the details of your program, the effects of abuse, and the importance of understanding the problem and dealing with it.

We’d be happy to advise you on creating and implementing a comprehensive workplace substance abuse plan.