Many employers have already realised how important it is to establish a drug-safe workplace policy, and have taken measures to get one developed and implemented the soonest possible time. What many employers have not realised, however, is that one company’s drug-safe workplace policy might not be applicable to another. To create a successful drug-safe workplace policy, there are factors that need to be taken into consideration first. Here is a list to help you get started.
Drug-safe workplace policy should fit company’s needs and characteristics
Businesses come in different sizes, industries, and risk factors related to drug abuse. It’s only right that any drug-safe workplace policy implemented in each organisation should be appropriate for the factors mentioned above.
There are three basic types of drug-safe workplace programs. The first type is one that is implemented for small organisations whose safety or security risk is low, and staffed by people with few risk factors for drug abuse. Such a program is expected to have a policy, as well as an employee assistance program or EAP. Drug testing, however, might not be offered with this kind of policy.
Small or medium-sized organisations with numerous workplace drug abuse risk factors, as well as moderate to high safety or security risks fall under Type 2. It may have a drug testing program and an EAP on top of a policy and an employee awareness program.
For medium to-large businesses with moderate-to-high safety or security risk and moderate-to-high employee risk factors, a Type 3 program would be most fitting. Drug testing, a drug safety program and an EAP are par for the course, and so are a strong or strict policy and a health or wellness program that is fairly comprehensive.
An effective drug-safe workplace policy addresses key issues
When developing a drug-safe workplace policy, keep in mind that key issues need to be addressed. There are several questions that need to be answered, such as the number of safety-sensitive positions, the rates of drug use or abuse within the workforce, or if you belong in an industry with legally required to perform drug tests.
Your written drug and alcohol policy should, among other things, set the tone for your entire drug-free workplace program. Whatever your organisation’s stand on alcohol and drugs, it must be stated clearly. Since privacy is one of the biggest issues advocates of workplace drug policies are consistently faced with, the drug-safe workplace policy must be clear in asserting the rights of both the employees and the employers, as well as the need to know and the rights to privacy. The policy must set out that the right of all employees will be respected, with the express goal of maintaining the safety of everyone in the workplace.
Factors that could undermine the effectiveness of a drug-safe workplace policy
Many employers make the mistake of focusing only on illicit drug use and overlooking alcohol when drafting their drug-safe workplace policies. Alcohol is an incredibly addictive and damaging substance, and is in fact to blame for many workplace accidents. Any workplace drug policy should have provisions for alcohol use and abuse in the workplace, and corresponding consequences for those who are caught drinking while at work.
Speaking of consequences, it is but normal to list down all penalties for those who test positive for drugs, but putting too much focus on termination is never a good thing. If anything, a drug-safe workplace policy should concentrate on rehabilitation first, and should only resort to termination after attempts at rehabilitation have failed.
These are just some of the factors that need to be considered when creating a drug policy. As always, obtain legal opinion when developing a drug-safe workplace policy that will meet the needs and characteristics of your organisation.