A Drug Free Workplace is a Safer Workplace
When alcohol and/or drug abuse spills over into the workplace, dangerous things can happen quickly. Even drugs prescribed by a licensed physician can be abused and cause serious hazards. A drug free workplace policy can help ensure a safe and healthful work environment for all.
A comprehensive written policy states your company’s rules prohibiting the use of alcohol and drugs at work, and the procedures that will be followed to effectively handle it if it does occur.
Your policy should include:
- The person and department that is in charge of administering the program.
- How the policy provides a safer workplace.
- Employee education on the dangers of alcohol and drugs in the workplace, and reporting procedures.
- Supervisor training on alcohol and drug use, signs and symptoms of intoxication, proper documentation, and what to do about it.
- Specific details of any alcohol or drug testing program that you require.
- The compliance and disciplinary policy for established violation(s).
- Details on your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or other available resources.
- Treatment options.
- Return to work considerations and monitoring.
- A Last Chance Agreement when all reasonable attempts to correct the undesirable behavior have been exhausted.
The transportation industry must comply with mandatory drug and alcohol testing under the Department of Transportation (DOT) rules. For others, it’s up to the individual business. If you decide to have an alcohol and drug-testing program, make sure you detail your procedures in your substance abuse policy and comply with the law governing when tests may be conducted.
How can I tell if my employees are using drugs?
Employers may use reasonable suspicion procedures for any employee exhibiting signs of drug and alcohol use in the workplace. This is a specific, documented, and verified observation that a designated and trained supervisor makes when observing employee behavior.
You and your management team will require extra training to understand the signs of alcohol and substance abuse, including the over-use of prescription drugs. Examples of symptoms include slurred speech, unsteady gait, shaky hands, bloodshot eyes, flushed or pale skin, and/or an odor of alcohol.1 Observing behavior such as a change in appearance, cleanliness, manner, tardiness, focus, or possession of paraphernalia can also be cause for reasonable suspicion.2
Employers should exercise great caution when they suspect an employee’s drug or alcohol use is impacting the workplace. Employment agreement, collective bargaining agreements, federal, and state law can affect what you can and cannot do. State Fund strongly suggests that you consult with a human resources or labor law expert before taking action in response to suspected alcohol or drug use by employees.
A clearly defined alcohol and drug free workplace plan helps maintain a fair, safe, and substance abuse free workforce and workspace. Your employees will be aware of the company expectations for compliance, the consequences should they violate the policy, and their options for treatment if needed. If an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available, it can help workers who have an addiction, and with other difficulties your workers may be facing.
Safety News is produced by State Compensation Insurance Fund to assist clients in their loss prevention efforts. Information or recommendations contained in this publication were obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the date of publication. Information is only advisory and does not presume to be exhaustive or inclusive of all workplace hazards or situations. Permission to reprint articles subject to approval by State Compensation Insurance Fund.
©2016 State Compensation Insurance Fund
For more information on the SRBX Safety Program, contact Lisa Frederiksen at (916) 442-8991 or LisaF@srbx.org.