Creating a Drug-Free Workplace Program (or Evaluating an Existing One)

We know that all workplaces can be vulnerable to problems associated with substance abuse with safety as the primary concern. In today’s current landscape, rapidly changing state laws surrounding the legalization of marijuana (both medical and recreational) have created confusion for concerned employers. Because of this gray area of the law, it is of utmost importance that employers communicate their drug and substance abuse policies clearly to employees. The following six components can help improve your drug-free workplace program.

1. A written substance abuse policy

We recommend providing the details of your drug-free workplace policy to employees in writing. This not only makes it easier to explain specific rules, requirements, testing procedures and related issues to employees, but also helps employees to consistently follow to the policy. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) has a sample written substance abuse policy for employers to look at.

2. Employee education

It’s important to provide educational materials that explain the effects of substance abuse on employee health, workplace performance and safety. This includes responsibilities to follow to the program, participate in substance abuse awareness training, seek help if they have a problem and report potential drug and alcohol use to supervisors. In addition, make sure they are aware of voluntary assistance programs and where they can seek help and counseling, and also provide employee representatives these materials. Information about your company’s drug-free workforce program should be a part of new employee orientation.

3. Supervisor training

The role of the supervisor is critical in preventing substance abuse in the workplace. We recommend providing training so they understand the details of your policy and their role in promoting a drug-free workplace.

4. Drug testing

Drug testing is subject to state and federal rules and regulations, so remember when putting together a drug-free workplace program, work with qualified legal counsel. In addition, work with a certified lab and qualified drug testing program administrator. Check out guidelines from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) established to help ensure accuracy of drug test results and provide privacy for individuals who are tested.

5. Employee assistance program (EAP)

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a voluntary, work-based program offering free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems, including substance abuse. Sometimes, such programs may be more effective if they are administered by an independent contractor. This may be more accepted by employees concerned about privacy. Note that if cost is a concern for an EAP, another idea is to maintain a reference file of community-based resources, telephone help-lines and treatment programs that employees can access when they need support.

6. Substance abuse treatment

When an employee has tested positive, employers should provide substance abuse treatment information including names of treatment professionals and programs. A substance abuse professional (SAP) should evaluate employees who test positive and, if treatment is needed, the monitor to ensure the employee has followed the treatment program. A qualified program administrator can maintain substance abuse prevention program records and help ensure records contain accurate test results and protect the privacy and confidentiality of employees who are tested.

Overall, the six components listed above should help your company reduce problems associated with substance abuse. Since each state has different regulations concerning medical marijuana, please ask you Rose & Kiernan, Inc. representative for more information. If you have any questions, contact the Risk Management team here or by calling (800) 242-4433.

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