Is your drug-free workplace program doing its job?

Ridding your workplace of drug and alcohol abuse can benefit your business and your employees in a variety of ways. If you haven’t looked at your policy in a while, you may be missing key elements.

According to the National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance, employers that implement drug-free programs see a decrease in workplace accidents, employee mistakes, absenteeism, turnover, and a decline in workers’ compensation claims. Other benefits, like improved morale, workplace environment, and customer satisfaction, are less tangible.

According to the U.S. Department to Labor, alcohol and drug abuse costs American businesses more than $80 billion in lost productivity per year—$37 billion due to premature death, and $44 billion due to illness.

A number of federal agencies are required to conduct drug testing. These include the Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NASA, Department of Defense, and Department of Transportation (DOT). Employees are regulated by DOT if company vehicles have a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, are designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver, or are used to transport hazardous materials.

Random testing tips and benefits

Experts say the best tool in maintaining a drug- and alcohol-free workplace is random testing. According to the DOT’s Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance, random testing:

  • Saves lives and prevents injuries;
  • Helps employers identify workers with substance abuse issues and facilitate their treatment;
  • Allows employees to so no to illegal drug use because “they test at work;”
  • Reduces employer liability; and
  • Is a fair way of testing.

In order to determine if testing is right for your organization, start by assessing whether it is required for some or all of your workers. Possible reasons to test include:

  • To comply with federal regulations.
  • To comply with customer or contract requirements.
  • To comply with insurance carrier requirements.
  • To reinforce the organization’s no-drug-use position.
  • To identify employees with substance use disorders and then refer them for assistance.
  • To establish grounds for discipline or firing.
  • To improve safety.
  • To deter recreational drug use that could lead to addiction.
  • To reduce the costs of alcohol and other drug misuse in the workplace.

Once you establish a policy and a program, make sure you communicate the provisions fully to all employees. Review regularly and evaluate the need for change.