Drug-Free Workplace: The 15 Essentials
A Drug-Free Workplace at your company should be established PRIMARILY for SAFETY.
The intent of a company's Drug-Free Workplace program should NOT be PUNITIVE!
"Drug-Free Workplace Programs are NOT about a company 'catching' employees using drugs. Drug-Free Workplace Programs are about preventing employee drug-use in the workplace. Employee drug testing is about a company's LEGAL as well as MORAL obligation and responsibility to keep its workplace a SAFE and HEALTHY environment for ALL its employees, customers, and vendors." -Ed Poole, President OHS Health & Safety Services, Inc.
A Drug-Free Workplace Program should include the following '15' essentials. Together, they ensure it works optimally and keeps it effective so that your company remains a Drug-Free Workplace for the long-term:
1. Prepare a written "Drug-Free Workplace" Policy for your legal protection, copy it to all employees; have the acknowledgment of their review and understanding of your Drug-Free Workplace policy signed and dated by them and placed in their personnel file. OHS, Inc. can custom-write such Drug-Free Workplace policy for you, which includes an "acknowledgment of receipt and understanding" for your employees to sign. (Fourteen states actually have laws requiring a written drug testing policy; two states require state-approval of the policy before implementing a drug testing program. Call us at 1-800-456-4647 x 205 if you need more information about this. OHS Inc. knows all the rules- we can help!)
2. For your employees, post "We Are a Drug-Free Workplace" or similar signs in your coffee break room, and above the employee time clock. (The law in two states actually requires conspicuous posting of this type.)
3. Circulate substance-abuse prevention education materials (e.g., pamphlets/videos) to all supervisors, managers, and other employees once annually; a short 'reminder' notice of your Drug-Free Workplace company policy - and perhaps some drug-abuse facts - should be included inside pay envelopes at least once per calendar quarter. OHS, Inc. can help you with this.
4. Perform pre-employment drug testing on every new hire. Make certain they understand that you have and maintain a Drug-Free Workplace. Those testing 'positive' for drugs should have their conditional employment offer immediately rescinded no matter how qualified they might otherwise appear to be and no matter how badly you need to fill the position! (Law in five states requires that any drug testing be performed post-hire only; law in one state requires that pre-employment testing is permitted only in conjunction with a "comprehensive physical" exam; rescission of the conditional job offer can be made following a confirmed positive for illicit drugs.)
5. In help wanted ads, include this type statement: "We are a Drug-Free Workplace", "Employment subject to passing a drug test.", or similar. Once your company becomes well-known as a Drug-Free Workplace, your help wanted ads will generate about 10% fewer responses. The good news is, those who do respond will be MUCH less likely to be drug-abusers!
6. For all job candidates, post "We Drug Test to Keep Our Company a Drug-Free Workplace" or similar signs prominently for them to clearly see at your parking entrance, building entrance, and inside ALL hiring offices.
7. "Randomly" drug test (local laws permitting) at least 50% of your employee base annually. Depending on your number of employees, perform random testing at least once quarterly, monthly or weekly. OHS, Inc. provides computerized random "selections" for all our clients who test randomly. Industry experts agree that on-going random testing is the single-most effective deterrent of workplace drug-abuse and for maintaining a solid Drug-Free Workplace. CONSIDER: of more than 6.2 million drug tests of the "general workforce" analyzed by Quest Diagnostics Labs in 2017, those screened for pre-employment purposes tested positive at a rate of "only" 4.6%. However, those already employed - and tested randomly - were positive at a rate of 5.6%...a 22% higher rate of positives than for pre-employment. Yes, it IS important to test randomly and consistently throughout the year!
(NOTE: Specific ordinances in two U.S. cities and laws in eleven states either "limit" or specifically do not permit "random" testing of employees. If you are not aware whether these laws apply in your city or state, please call OHS, Inc. and let us help.)
8. Test an employee for "reasonable suspicion" (aka, "for cause") whenever reasonable cause is justified by virtue of their display of any performance, behavioral or physical "indicators" of drug-use. (These indicators of drug-use are listed by OHS, Inc. for your convenience on another page of our website: CLICK HERE to to view them. In 2017, active employees tested "for cause" (aka, "reasonable suspicion") while on the job had a positive rate of 33.0%...a SEVEN TIMES higher positive rate than for pre-employment! OHS, Inc. provides excellent "on-line" training that teaches your managers to more easily identify drug-use in your workplace and, how to properly and legally address the issue. Reasonable suspicion drug testing is MUST-DO for a successful Drug-Free Workplace Program. CLICK HERE to learn more.)
9. Arrange "workplace substance-abuse awareness" training for your supervisors and managers. It will go a long way to help yours to be a Drug-Free Workplace. Such training will help managers more easily recognize and identify the 'indicators' of drug-use among their crew. It will teach them the most effective methods of isolating and preventing a possible drug-use related workplace problem before it becomes a full-blown company crisis. OHS can arrange such training for your supervisors and managers nationwide "online"- via the Internet. (Annual drug-abuse "awareness training" of company supervisors and/or all company employees is required by law in four different states. CLICK HERE for a description and pricing of this specialized training.)
10. "Post-accident" drug test an employee whenever justified by serious injury, damaged/loss of property, or life. In 2011, active employees that were tested after a job-related accident (aka, "post-accident") had a positive rate of 5.3%...a 51% higher positive rate than for pre-employment). IMPORTANT: At least "40" states will consider a denial of Workers' Compensation benefits when an accident is caused by your employee whose 'post-accident' drug test is positive for illicit drugs. The majority of those 40 states ALSO will consider a denial of unemployment benefits for that same reason. And you thought drug testing might cost too much? No! "Post-accident" drug testing - alone - can annually save your company literally tens of thousands of dollars more than it costs! We discuss the "cost" of a workplace drug testing program (i.e., a "Drug-Free Workplace") in detail on another page of our site. CLICK HERE to access it.)
11. Use ONLY federal/state certified labs for the analysis of all specimens that are sent to a lab. Laws in five states and in one U.S. Territory require that all elements of a company drug testing program - including the choice of testing lab - strictly follow U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines. Some states even offer a 5-8% discount off Workers' Comp premiums if you have a Drug-Free Workplace established, following all these federal guidelines. OHS, Inc. has helped hundreds of companies take advantage of this special savings.
12. Have all specimens that initially test "positive" (including those based upon results of so-called "on-site" drug test devices or 'kits') re-tested by a certified lab...it's called "confirmation" testing. (Confirmation testing of initial positives when using "on-site kits" is required by law in a number of different states.)
13. Utilize the services of a Medical Review Officer (MRO) for all positive results. (Law in multiple states requires the use of an MRO!)
14. Ensure that all test results of employees are kept strictly confidential! Inform ONLY those with a "need to know" of drug test results; maintain ALL results with strict security.
15. Impose ALL terms of your company's written Drug-Free Workplace policy strictly, fairly, and equally with ALL employees- to ensure a solid and effective Drug-Free Workplace, do not engage in favoritism and make NO exceptions!