In the face of rising incidences of drug use in the workplace, it has become imperative for employers and businesses to come up with a program that will keep their workplaces drug safe. If your business doesn’t have one in place yet, here’s how to start a drug testing program in the workplace.
1) Draft a clear drug safe workplace policy
No drug-safe workplace program is ever complete without a written drug-safe workplace policy. Generally speaking, each organisation should have a unique written drug-safe workplace policy; the stipulations of which should apply to its specific needs.
Nevertheless, there are certain aspects of effective drug-safe workplace policies that every policy should have in common. For one, the rationale for the implementation of such a policy should be explicitly stated. Just saying how the organisation recognises the dangers posed by alcohol and drugs to the safety, health, and well-being of its workers and customers and how dedicated it is to preserving all of them should work.
Every effective drug-safe workplace policy should also clearly describe the behaviours that employees should avoid engaging in. This description could be written in various number of ways, but it should at least say that “use, possession, transfer, or sale of illegal drugs or controlled substances by employees are strictly prohibited.”
The consequences for engaging in prohibited behaviours in relation to drugs also need to be explicated thoroughly in the written policy. It should list down the disciplinary actions, including suspension, referral for assistance, and termination, that anyone caught violating the policy will be facing. Just make sure that such disciplinary actions are in keeping with other existing workplace policies, as well as state and federal laws.
While developing the policy, we recommend that you ask employees for feedback. Once the final policy is in place, you, as the employer, must make sure that it is shared with every single member of the organisation.
2) Train the supervisors
Once a written drug-safe workplace policy exists, the next step would be to train all your supervisors on all aspects of the policy. They are, after all, the ones who work more closely with the workforce. Aside from a review of every single aspect of the policy, supervisor training should also include their specific responsibilities in its implementation, as well as teaching them ways to spot signs that employees may be suffering from a drug problem. That, however, doesn’t mean they are expected to be able to diagnose alcohol and drug-related problems. While some signs of drug abuse can be easily spotted by anyone without any medical training, only professionals in the field can diagnose the problem and offer counselling to those who need them.
Supervisor training related to the company’s drug-safe workplace policy should focus on making sure they have a complete understanding of the policy, the ability to spot and try to resolve worker performance issues, and the ability to make the right action, such as referring the employee to any assistance program in place.
3) Educate the workforce
Educating the workforce about the drug-safe workplace policy being implemented is essential, and it should be compulsory for every member of the organisation. It’s the only way for them to get the information and to have a complete understanding of the policy. When they fully understand the policy, they are more likely to cooperate and clearly see its benefits. For an employee education program about drug policy, it’s equally important to tell them about its details as well as more information about alcohol and drug abuse in general. Making them see how substance abuse impacts their performance at work, and how everything carries over to their own health and personal lives would also be great. Informing them about the types of help they can get if they have alcohol or drug problems will also be a lot of help.
Their education about the policy should be an ongoing and continuous effort, not just some one-off activity. Aside from actual seminars and sessions about drug abuse in the workplace, it would also help if the effort included mail campaigns and putting up posters in the workplace, among other things.
4) Provide employee assistance
A crucial component of any organisation’s drug-safe workplace program are Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which are typically created to help address and resolve work performance issues brought on by substance abuse and other personal problems. EAPs should offer short-term counselling and referrals, as well as more services related to alcohol and drugs, such as supervisor training and employee education, which will be quite beneficial to employees and the organisation alike.
In the EAP, employers have a vehicle for demonstrating how much they value and respect the members of their workforce, regardless of how troubled they are. EAPs accommodate workers with issues, which is undoubtedly a much better route to take than termination or dismissal, as it shows the employer has clearly made an effort to help their employees in dire circumstances.
5) Implement alcohol and drug testing
Of all components of a drug-safe workplace program, it’s the testing for alcohol and drugs that is proving to be a bit tricky. In many cases, drug testing in the workplace could come into conflict with laws that guarantee an individual’s right to privacy, among other things. That is why employers must be familiar with existing local, state, and federal laws that may have an impact on the way drug and alcohol testing in the workplace is. Seeking legal opinion before the implementation of any drug testing program is strongly recommended.
In any case, employers should take a number of factors into consideration before they develop drug and alcohol testing policies and make drug testing a part of their drug-safe workplace program. The persons to be tested, for one, should be explicitly made clear, whether it’s all employees or just those working safety-sensitive jobs.
The timing of the tests should also be clearly stated. The employees need to know whether the tests will be done pre-employment, at random, or upon reasonable suspicion, among others.
In addition, the employer should inform everyone which drugs they will be tested for. Usually, government agencies test for marijuana, opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, and PCP, but the employer can opt to include alcohol, prescription drugs, and other substances.
An effective drug testing policy also needs to indicate how the on-site drug testing is to be conducted. It could be through a urinalysis, hair test, blood tests, sweat patches, and a number of other testing modes. However, as previously stated, there may be laws that dictate the types of testing modes employers may and may not use on employees, so it bears repeating that employers should have legal counsel first before moving forward with the drug testing.