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Setting up a Drug-Free Workplace Policy

Many of our calls from employers are to ask about how to set up a drug-free workplace policy. A workplace policy is part of an overall drug-free program needed for an employer to establish drug testing. There are five major components to any company’s drug-free workplace program. They include:

  • A comprehensive written drug-free workplace policy 
  • Employee education 
  • Supervisor training 
  • Access to employee assistance programs 
  • Drug testing 

The comprehensive written drug-free workplace policy is the who, what, where, when and how of the company drug testing program. It should be specific that illicit drug use is prohi8bited. It should also have very clear and specific consequences of violating the policy.  Some companies have a zero tolerance, and any violation will result in immediate termination of employment. Other companies provide an employee with the opportunity to seek treatment before initiating disciplinary action. The employer should treat all employees consistently. 

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How to Create a Drug-Free Workplace Policy

The drug-free workplace policy can be written by an HR professional, an attorney or a drug testing professional. 

Joe Reilly at National Drug Screening has been developing drug-free workplace policies since 1999. He works with companies large and small to develop comprehensive drug-free workplace programs for both DOT regulated and non-regulated companies. Joe maintains an extensive database of state laws on drug testing do that the policies he develops are consistent with local and state laws and also provide for minimum exposure to the employer in their drug testing program. 

Educating Employees

Employee education is about educating the employees about the drug testing policy itself, the dangers of drug abuse and information about any available drug counseling or employee assistance program services.  This educational component can be delivered in many ways including educational seminars delivered by substance abuse professionals, local law enforcement officials, and/or company staff, brochures and/or posters, interactive computer programs, video materials, home mailings and/or payroll stuffers, brown-bag lunches, or any combination of these.   

Training Supervisors on the Drug-Free Workplace Policy

Supervisor training is about educating the supervisors about the policy and providing training for them to recognize the signs and symptoms of illegal drug use at work.  The primary concern of the supervisor should be safety and job performance. Failures in the area of safety or job performance could potentially a result of an employee drug use on the job.  The supervisor must be in a position to refer an employee to a reasonable suspicion drug or alcohol test when there are signs or symptoms of drug use. Reasonable suspicion” is defined as a belief that an employee is using or has used drugs in violation of the employer’s policy drawn from specific, objective and articulable facts and reasonable inferences drawn from observations of that the supervisor sees, hears or smells. 

Employee Support

When a worker has a problem with alcohol or drugs, company employee assistance or union member or labor assistance programs are the best places to turn for help since they provide confidential services. Some companies have employee assistance programs (EAP), and some do not, often the EAP is included in health insurance. At National Drug Screening, Joe Reilly includes an EAP program of resources for employee assistance with every drug-free workplace policy he develops. Supervisors and HR personnel should be in a position to help an employee in need to get confidential help. 

Workplace Drug Testing

The fifth component of the drug-free workplace program is the actual drug testing. The type of drug testing should be carefully considered whether it to be hair testing, urine testing or oral fluid testing. An adequately certified laboratory should always be used, and all drug test results should be reviewed by a medical review officer (MRO). The MRO rules out false positives and deals with confidential prescription information. Drug testing reasons commonly include pre-employment screenings, reasonable suspicions of use, post-accident, return-to-duty and random testing. In some companies fit for duty testing is also required. Most private employers use testing guidelines established by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 

At National Drug Screening we help employers with all five components of the drug-free workplace program and get the Lab and MRO accounts set. Our new clients can be up and running in 5 business days with a comprehensive drug-free workplace program. An initial consultation is always available at no charge, call 866-843-4545 for immediate assistance. 

Read more about creating a drug-free workplace.