By Gerald Daniels
Drug-Free Work Week is October 19-25, 2009. It is an opportunity for you and your company to become actively involved in promoting an informative program that is committed to employee safety, improved productivity and cost reduction, while encouraging employees with alcohol or drug problems to seek help. Drug-Free Work Week is designed to offer support to companies with established drug and alcohol policies as well as to help companies create new policies that will work for them. By enforcing company policies that deal with the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse in the work place a clear message is sent of zero tolerance to workers. The zero tolerance policy does not mean that treatment is not an option, it simply states that from the date of drug or alcohol abuse detection in the work place a treatment plan must be agreed upon between employer and employee.
When you consider that seventy-five percent of the nation’s current illegal drug users, and seventy-nine percent of the nation’s heavy alcohol abusers are employed, it is no wonder that companies are more concerned than ever. Three percent of the nation’s work force admits to using illegal drugs before or during work, and the number for those who have abused alcohol in the work place is about seven percent. Drug-free work place programs help protect employers and employees alike from the potentially devastating consequences of worker related alcohol or drug abuse incidents. Educating employees about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse, deterring and detecting use, and urging people to seek help for alcohol and drug problems are smart safety strategies. They’re also smart business strategies.
Drug-free work week is also a time to reinforce the importance of working drug and alcohol free in positive and proactive ways. The overall goal of a drug and alcohol free work place is to prevent impairment and improve safety by setting standards and holding workers accountable. Four basic standards companies can follow are:
1) Be aware of your company’s drug and alcohol policies
2) Follow the policies and set a good example for others
3) Seek help if an employee needs it; and
4) Notify management if you observe drug or alcohol use or impairment that threatens safety.
Some of the most helpful information to develop a drug and alcohol policy for your company or to simply find useful resources is The United States Department of Labor. Their web site is easy to navigate and is chock full of free products, (www.dol.gov/workingpartners). The website covers everything from legal and liability issues to how to professionally administer an onsite drug or alcohol test. The statistics that The Department of Labor has gathered concerning drug and alcohol abuse in the work place can also help you to recognize areas and vocations that are more prone to problems.
Learning the truth about drug and alcohol addiction for an addict rarely leads to recovery. On the other hand, those who have to deal with the addicts and their antics at work, at home, or anywhere else for that matter are thankful for reliable and sensible information. In today’s litigious society it is more important than ever to protect the investment that you and your fellow workers make each day in the company you work at. By actively participating in the drug and alcohol free work week you’ll be on the road to making every week a drug and alcohol free work week.