Article by Joe Reilly, President, National Drug Screening, Inc.
[Reprinted from: Space Coast Business Magazine, https://www.spacecoastbusiness.com/saving-money-on-workers-comp-insurance-national-drug-screening/]
There are several ways to save money on workers’ comp insurance. One way is to have a safe workplace with no accidents or claims. Then, you will have no premium increases and you will save money.
A safety program will go a long way towards preventing accidents. Maintaining a safe working environment is something you can achieve. Keep up with repairs, maintenance and add safety features as needed. Maintain scheduled inspections of your workplace to identify issues that pose a safety threat before someone becomes injured. Make sure personal protective equipment (PPE) is readily available. PPE equipment includes items such as gloves, ear plugs, respirators, goggles, helmets, flak vests, chem gear and more.
In Florida, your business can also save 5% on your workers’ compensation premium insurance by implementing a Drug-Free Workplace Program in accordance with Florida Statute 440.102. Generally, a drug-free workplace program consists of five components:
- Written drug-free workplace policy
- Employee education on harmful effects of drugs & alcohol
- Supervisor training on reasonable suspicion
- Access to employee assistance program (EAP)
- Drug testing of applicants and employees
The written drug-free workplace policy will clearly state the prohibition of the manufacture, use and distribution of controlled substances in the workplace and spell out the specific consequences of violating this policy. The use of alcohol while working or being intoxicated on the job will also be covered. The long-term goals of the policy are to protect and improve worker health, safety and productivity more broadly, in part by addressing workplace alcohol and drug misuse. Some insurance providers offer a template for the drug-free workplace policy to make it easy for employers to implement the program.
The education and training is to establish a drug-free awareness program. The program should inform employees of the dangers of workplace substance use; review the requirements of the organization’s drug-free workplace policy; and offer information about any counseling, rehabilitation or Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs) that may be available.
Supervisors are trained to recognize signs and symptoms of an employee that may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work. For safety, this individual is removed from the workplace and should be required to have a reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol test.
The Florida program requires a one-time, sixty-day notice of the program to existing employees. This notice must include:
- The types of drug testing an employee or job applicant may be required to submit to, including reasonable-suspicion drug testing or drug testing conducted on any other basis.
- The actions the employer may take against an employee or job applicant on the basis of a positive confirmed drug test result.
The sixty-day notice gives employees a chance to come to the employer and request assistance. The sixty-day notice does not apply to job applicants.
At a licensed laboratory, testing must include initial screening and confirmation testing for non-negative results. All of the lab reported drug test results must be reviewed and verified by a Medical Review Officer (MRO).
Substances to be tested for in this drug-testing program can be any of the following:
- Cannabinoids (marijuana, THC)
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
Another huge benefit of the Florida Drug-Free Workplace Program is the availability of the intoxication defense on a worker’s comp claim. After an accident, post-accident drug and alcohol testing should be performed. Your written policy should have an acknowledgement statement that includes this language:
“I understand that if I am injured in the course and scope of my employment and test positive or refuse to be tested, I forfeit my eligibility for medical and indemnity benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act upon exhaustion of the remedies provided in Florida Statute 440.102(5).”
Denial of a workers’ comp claim can save a lot of money.
An application for the 5% premium discount is available from your workers’ comp insurance provider. The application must be completed, signed and notarized in order to receive the discount. Re-certification is required annually. Don’t miss the boat on this, you get a safe and drug free workplace and you save money.