|Steps to a Drug-Free
To protect against the negative impact
of workplace drug and alcohol abuse, many businesses implement
drug-free workplace programs. A comprehensive program generally
includes five components:
- Drug-Free Workplace Policy
- Supervisor Training
- Employee Education
- Employee Assistance
- Drug Testing
may choose not to include all five components,
it is recommended that all be explored and considered
when developing a drug-free workplace program.
Research does show a positive relationship between
the number of components included and a programs
overall effectiveness. However, it should be noted
that drug testing is only one part of a comprehensive
drug-free workplace program and is not a required
component in many work sites.
Below is a brief
summary of what each of the five components entails.
Component 1: Writing a Drug-Free Workplace Policy
A written drug-free workplace
policy is the foundation of an organizations
drug-free workplace program. Every organizations
written policy should be unique and tailored to
meet its specific needs; however, all effective
policies have a few aspects in common.
First, a written
policy should clearly state why the policy or
drug-free workplace program is being implemented.
Rationale can be as simple as a company being
committed to protecting the safety, health and
well being of its employees and patrons and recognizing
that abuse of alcohol and other drugs compromises
The second core element
of an effective written policy is a clear description
of behaviors that are prohibited. At a minimum,
this should include a statement that the use,
possession, transfer or sale of illegal drugs
or controlled substances by employees is prohibited.
The third fundamental
element is a thorough explanation of the consequences
for violating the policy. Consequences may include
discipline up to and including termination and/or
referral for assistance. Consequences should be
consistent with other existing personnel policies
and procedures and any applicable state laws.
note that sharing their policy with all company
employees is an essential part of a drug-free
workplace program. Many companies find it helpful
to ask for feedback from employees during the
initial policy development stage.
2: Supervisor Training
developing a written drug-free workplace policy,
an organization should train those individuals
closest to the workforcesupervisors. Supervisor
training is an integral part of every drug-free
workplace program. At a minimum, supervisor training
should include a review of:
- The organizations
drug-free workplace policy
specific responsibilities in implementing the
- Ways to recognize
and deal with employees who have job performance
problems that may be related to alcohol and
In relation to an
organizations drug-free workplace program,
supervisors responsibilities should include
monitoring employees job performance, staying
alert to performance problems, documenting performance
problems and enforcing the policy. Supervisors
should not, however, be expected
to diagnose alcohol- and drug-related problems
or provide counseling to employees who may have
them. Rather, training should focus on ensuring
- Understand the
companys drug-free workplace policy
- Can identify and
attempt to resolve employee performance problems
- Know how to refer
employees to available assistance
In addition, if supervisors
are responsible for making referrals for testing
based on reasonable suspicion, they must also
be thoroughly trained on how to make that determination.
3: Employee Education
drug and alcohol education program is a systematic approach
to providing employees with the information they need to fully
understand, cooperate with and benefit from their organizations
drug-free workplace program. Effective employee education
programs provide company-specific information, such as details
of the drug-free workplace policy and program, as well as
more generalized information about the nature of alcohol and
drug abuse; its impact on work performance, health and personal
and family life; and what types of help are available for
individuals with alcohol- and drug-related problems, either
through the organization or community-based service providers.
All company employees should
be required to participate in the drug and alcohol education
program. The message should be delivered on an ongoing basis
through a variety of means, not as a one-time effort. Forums
for employee education may include home mailings, posters
and displays in the workplace, brown-bag lunches, guest speakers,
seminars and sessions at new employee orientation.
4: Providing Employee Assistance
Assistance Programs (EAPs) are an extremely effective vehicle
for addressing and resolving poor workplace performance that
may stem from an employees personal problems, including
alcohol and drug abuse.
In addition to short-term counseling and
referrals, many EAPs offer additional drug- and alcohol-related
services that benefit employees and the company, such as supervisor
training and employee education. Businesses with financial
constraints may be able to join a consortium to offer their
workers EAP services or, at a minimum, should provide a resource
file from which employees can access information about treatment
programs and helplines.
EAPs are an excellent benefit to employees
and their families. They clearly demonstrate employers
responsiveness and respect for their staff. EAPs also offer
an alternative to dismissal and minimize an employers
legal vulnerability because they clearly show a companys
effort to accommodate troubled employees.
5: Alcohol and Drug Testing
their controversial nature, alcohol and drug tests are increasingly
standard components of many drug-free workplace programs.
However, before deciding whether or not to include testing
as part of their organizations program, employers should
consider a number of factors:
Who will be tested? Possibilities
include all employees, job applicants and/or employees in
When will tests be conducted?
Possibilities include pre-employment, upon reasonable suspicion
or for-cause, post-accident, randomly, periodically and post-rehabilitation.
Which drugs will be tested for?
Possibilities include the five drugs required for testing
by many Federal government agencies (marijuana, opiates, amphetamines,
cocaine and PCP) or a broader range of substances, including
alcohol or prescription drugs.
How will tests be conducted? A
number of testing modes are available, including urinalysis,
saliva tests, hair tests, breath-alcohol tests, sweat patches
and blood tests. Many states have laws that dictate the types
of testing modes that may and may not be used. All Federal
drug-testing programs must conduct tests in accordance with
the Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs
published by the US Department of Health and Human Services
Administration (available on the Internet at www.health.org/workplace
or by calling the National Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol
Information at 1-800-729-6686).
State and Federal laws. It is
essential that employers familiarize themselves with existing
local, state and Federal laws that may impact when, where
and how drug and alcohol testing is performed. It is strongly
recommended that legal counsel be sought prior to implementing
any testing program.