No two workplaces are the same, and no two employers will take exactly the same approach to addressing alcohol and other drug abuse. The chart below shows a number of options for starting or expanding a drug-free workplace program.
Some employers may be interested in only one component; others may want to implement several or all of them. The decision will depend on the level of concern about the problem, the potential for alcohol and other drug abuse at the worksite, and the available resources. Remember, there is no one "right" way to start a drug-free workplace program.
Each component in the chart is explained in greater detail in the following sections of this kit. Taken together, they provide a comprehensive approach to developing a drug-free workplace program.
Components of a Drug-Free Workplace Program
As with any other organizational change, assessment is the first step. A careful needs assessment can lead to early program success. The needs of an employer with 200 employees, 75 of whom drive company vehicles, will be very different from the needs of an employer with only 8 employees who work all day on computers. Local resources also will vary from one community to the next.
A written policy tells everyone the organization’s position on alcohol and other drug abuse and explains what will happen if the policy is violated. This is the central component of most programs.
Employers often ask if they can "borrow" another employer’s policy and tailor it to their workplace. While this is certainly possible, it is best to draft a policy that meets your own organization’s specific needs. Many employers find it helpful to involve supervisors and employee and union representatives in drafting a policy. These people can offer practical ideas and help to write a well-rounded policy. In general, employees who contribute to a policy are more likely to willingly comply with it. They’ll also be better able to explain it to others.
A plan for introducing the drug-free workplace program to employees and for informing them about alcohol- and other drug-related issues will be important to the program’s overall success. The educational components in this kit provide the basic facts about alcohol and other drug abuse and guidelines for informing and educating employees.
If your organization has managers or supervisors, they can provide valuable support in introducing and carrying out a drug-free workplace program. They cannot do it alone, however; they will need guidance, direction, and support.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
An EAP is one way for an organization to offer help to employees with personal problems, including problems with alcohol and other drugs. This component can be a sign of employer support and a source of improved productivity. Although not every employer will want or be able to afford an EAP, it is worth considering. Low-cost options for offering an EAP are available, making this component within reach even for companies with limited resources.
Some employers believe that a drug-free workplace program and drug testing are the same. In fact, drug testing is only one possible component of a drug-free workplace program.
Drug testing has its place and can be helpful. It can also be a source of controversy, anxiety, and concern among employers and employees. Therefore, it is a big decision. A successful drug testing program requires careful planning, consistently applied procedures, strict confidentiality, and provisions for appeal.
Drug-Free Workplaces: No Two Are the Same
Many options for creating a drug-free workplace program are available to employers. The Employer Tip Sheets in this kit are designed to help you make the best choices to protect your organization and the health and welfare of your employees. Just as no two businesses or organizations are exactly alike, no two drug-free workplace programs will be the same. Shape your drug-free workplace program to meet the needs of your organization -- for now and for the future.
Checklist For Program Development
|___ Assess organizational needs
___ Identify available resources
___ Create a drug-free workplace policy
___ Determine if an EAP will be available
___ Determine if drug testing will be included
___ Train supervisors
___ Educate employees
___ Evaluate your program
Hallmarks of Successful Drug-Free Workplace Programs
Employers who have successfully implemented drug-free workplace programs offered these suggestions to employers who are just beginning to address the issue of alcohol and other drug abuse in their own organizations:
Think Things Through
Starting a drug-free workplace program requires careful planning. It’s important to think ahead, define clear goals for the program, and seek advice from other employers with experience when you need it. Learn as much as you can about existing programs and policies before you begin.
Work with your most valuable resource: your employees. They can help get the message out, clarify goals, and make sure the program fits into the daily reality of your workplace. Showing employees that you value their input vests them in the program and helps to make it work. Most estimates indicate that at least 8 out of 10 of your employees are probably not abusing alcohol or other drugs -- they are already part of the solution.
Drug-free workplace programs are serious business. Violating a drug-free workplace policy could mean that someone will lose a job or not be offered one. Protect your organization with procedural rules that are clear, fair, and consistently applied. The policy should also include provisions for appeal. With these steps in place, employees are more likely to support the program and trust that the employer will carry it out fairly.
Consider the Collective Bargaining Process
Where drug testing is a mandatory subject of collective bargaining, the rules for involvement of employee representatives are clear. Even when drug testing is not subject to collective bargaining, or when it is mandated by law, discussing the drug-free workplace policy with union representatives can be very useful. They may have model programs or other ideas to offer, and they can be very helpful in communicating program purpose, procedures, and policies to the employees they represent.
Employees will support and have faith in your drug-free workplace program when their confidentiality is protected. If employees choose to tell coworkers about their private concerns (e.g., results of a drug test), that is their decision. However, when an employee tells you something in confidence, you are obligated to keep it between the two of you. To ensure employee support of the program and avoid legal problems, make confidentiality a priority and spell out the penalties for anyone who violates it. (See the Supervisor’s Guide for more information about confidentiality.)
Ensure Accurate Testing and Objective Review
If your program includes alcohol or other drug testing, satisfy yourself and your employees that samples are correctly collected; the chain of custody is flawless; the tests are conducted by properly trained and supervised laboratory technicians using equipment that is appropriately maintained; laboratory performance and accuracy is independently reviewed; and results are communicated through a medical review officer (MRO) trained to render judgments.
Ensure Proper Use of the Program
Fair procedures and provisions for appeal reduce the possibility of misunderstandings between employers and employees. Train your supervisors to carry out their roles in the drug-free workplace program appropriately, and review and evaluate their performance in this area to prevent misuse of the program.
Ask For Legal Review
Whether you write the first draft of your policy yourself or tailor an existing policy to your needs, having your program, policy, and procedures reviewed by an attorney experienced in labor and employment matters in your State is extremely important. An attorney can advise you on any relevant State laws governing drug-free workplace programs or employer testing, and on how the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) may affect your program implementation. An attorney can also alert you as laws and regulations change over time. (See the Supervisor’s Guide, "Other Issues" section, for more information about the ADA.)
Pay Attention to the "Human" Factor
A drug-free workplace program that communicates care and concern for employees is more likely to succeed than one that seems scary or that intimidates employees. Providing assistance for employees with alcohol or other drug problems is one way employers can communicate that they care. Not every organization can afford to cover the costs of treatment for alcohol or other drug abuse; however, you can encourage employees to seek outside help and make it clear that help is available.
Ensure Good Communication and Ongoing Review
Explain your drug-free workplace program by using a variety of communication strategies. The message should be clear from the start. Effective ways to communicate include written materials, charts, meetings, question-and-answer sessions, and a suggestion box. Employers who are successful at this know it is important to repeat the message periodically, watch how the program works on a day-to-day basis, invite feedback, and revise the program as needed to meet the specific needs of the workplace.
Drug-free workplace programs are being studied and improved all the time. Keep current by joining local drug-free advocacy groups or coalitions. Some trade and professional associations also provide up-to-date information about drug-free workplace issues. Some employers ask an employee group to periodically review the program and suggest appropriate changes.
Address Concerns and Barriers
Employers with successful drug-free workplace programs report that they had a number of barriers to overcome before implementing a successful program. The following are examples of common barriers you may face as you consider implementing a program:
Do I need to bother? . . . Wouldn’t I know if employees were abusing alcohol or other drugs?
Abuse and addiction are serious, complex, and progressive illnesses. You may not "know" about an employee’s condition until the later stages of the disease process because that is when problems related to abuse or addiction become most apparent. So you may or may not know if employees are abusing alcohol or other drugs.
Organizations that don’t have drug-free workplace programs tend to be places where alcohol or other drug abusers want to work. Having a program in place now can reduce costly problems in the future. In addition to all of the other health, safety, and security risks that can arise, no employer wants to be the employer of choice for people who abuse alcohol or other drugs.
Will having a program create negative attitudes among employees?
Employees will be concerned and have questions about any new policy or program. Because of the sensitive nature of a drug-free workplace program, it is important to involve employees, listen to their questions and concerns, and explain why the decision has been made to implement a drug-free workplace program in the organization. If the program is presented in a positive way -- not as punishment -- the chances are good that employees will respond positively.
Creating a Drug-Free Workplace Policy
A written drug-free workplace policy is one of the essentials of an effective program. Nevertheless, employers interested in creating a policy for the first time share some common concerns.
Why Put the Policy on Paper?
A written policy helps both the employer and employees to focus on important details. Other reasons for putting the policy in writing include:
- It may be required -- for example, by the Drug-Free Workplace Act or by an insurance carrier.
- It makes legal review possible.
- It provides a record of the employer’s effort and a reference if the policy is challenged.
- It may protect the employer from certain kinds of claims by employees.
- A written policy is easier to explain to employees, supervisors, and others.
Can a Policy Be Borrowed From Someone Else?
If policies for similar organizations or work settings are available, it may not be necessary to develop one from scratch. Sample policies are likely to be found through a variety of sources: from other employers, through community alcohol and other drug organizations, or from CSAP’s Workplace Helpline at 1-800-WORKPLACE, which can provide copies of sample policies. Before you adopt an existing policy, however, make sure it fits your organization and your priorities. Also, consider contacting the employer who wrote the policy to ask a few questions:
- Is the policy still in place?
- Has it been changed in any way? How? Why?
- What aspects of the policy have been most successful? Least successful?
- Have there been any implementation problems? How were they solved?
A borrowed policy may not contain everything you need. When modifying or adopting an existing policy, consider these questions before you start to cut and paste:*
- Are there Federal, State, or local laws/regulations that apply to my workplace?
- Are any of my employees covered by the terms of a collectively bargained agreement?
- What philosophy and goals should the policy emphasize? Prevention? Punishment? Treatment?
- Who will be covered by the policy? All employees? Employees in certain jobs? Consultants? Contractors?
- What substances and behaviors will be prohibited?
- Will the policy include any form of drug or alcohol testing?
- When will the policy apply? During work hours? At events after hours?
- Where will the policy apply? In the workplace? Outside the workplace while on duty? Off duty?
- Who will implement and enforce the policy?
* Adapted from "Guide for Drug Free Workplace Policy Makers: Issues, Options, and Models," Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1992.
Where To Go For Help
"We are a small, family-owned company with many long-term employees. In the back of our minds, we always knew that if an employee had an alcohol or drug abuse problem we would do everything we could to help him or her find treatment, but we didn't have a written policy. Then one day someone who had been with our company for 3 years came to us about an alcohol problem. We realized that we didn't know where to send her or whether we could hold her job while she went for treatment. It motivated us to put our policy in writing. The process of formalizing the policy helped us look for more information about drug-free workplace programs, think about our options and procedures, and then tell our employees about the company's policy in case this happened again."
Owner of a printing company
Look in the phone book under your city or town’s name and look for entries like "Drug-Free Business Initiative" or "Coalition for Drug-Free Workplaces."Drug-free workplace groups and coalitions in your community may have model policies or be able to connect you with other employers who already have a policy or program in place. Since the Drug-Free Workplace Act was passed, many local and national programs have been set up to help employers create effective policies. Many of these programs were created by and for employers in your community. Finding these resources may take more than one telephone call or letter, since there may not be a centralized list in your State or local area:
- Call or write your State’s office for alcohol and drug abuse services and ask if they have a list of groups in or near your community.
- Call or write your local mayor’s office, police department community relations office, office of economic development, or business relations office and ask if they have a list of coalitions.
- Call or write your State or local Small Business Administration and ask if they know of resources or consortia in your area.
- Call or write your chamber of commerce or business, trade, or professional association and ask if they have services to help employers start a drug-free workplace program.
- Call CSAP’s Workplace Helpline at 1-800-WORKPLACE.
What Belongs in a Policy?
Whether you create your own policy or decide to adopt all or part of someone else’s, a successful policy will include the following:
The reason for the policy
What it is designed to do
How it was developed
Expectations and Prohibitions
The employee behaviors that are expected
Exactly what substances and behaviors are prohibited
Consequences and Appeals
Precisely what will happen if an employee violates the policy
Procedures for determining if an employee has violated the policy
How appeals will be handled
Benefits and Assurances
Efforts to help employees comply with the policy
How requests for help will be handled
How employee confidentiality will be protected
How fairness and consistency will be maintained
Should You Invite Others To Help?
It pays to involve employees and others in developing the policy. Employers continually find that when employees have been consulted about a new policy and believe their voices have been heard, they are more likely to cooperate. Some employers set up a task force or employee group to help develop their policy. Others solicit broad review and comment before adopting a policy. When employees are represented by a union, the policy may be an issue for collective bargaining. Union representatives can offer ideas and programs that will make the policy operate more smoothly.
Before You Put a Policy in Place
It’s always advisable to have a draft of a new drug-free workplace policy reviewed by an attorney experienced in labor and employment matters. Implementing the policy will have implications for the job security of employees with alcohol or other drug problems. Given the potential consequences of violating the policy, legal review is critical. Legal review is also important because of the growing and ever-changing body of laws and regulations about drugs in the workplace.
Educating your employees about alcohol and other drug abuse is important:
- It gives the program a high priority and says that everyone in the organization needs to be involved"
- It fosters a spirit of cooperation -- "We’re all in this together."
- It helps to dispel myths about alcohol and other drug abuse and acknowledges the impact of substance abuse on friends, family members, and coworkers.
- It encourages employees to buy into the program and reinforces the importance of addressing alcohol and other drug abuse in the workplace.
Setting the Tone
Your employee education program will be more effective if it doesn’t sound like a "from the top-down" mandate. How you communicate with employees and the tone you take will be crucial to the success of your program.
A positive approach...
. . . lets employees know the program is intended to improve the work environment for everyone. The message is:
"This is OUR problem, and here’s how WE can solve it."
. . . supports employees:
"If you have a problem, we want to give you a chance to get help."
A negative approach...
. . . takes a more punitive, judgmental attitude. The message is:
"You’d better watch out or you might be in trouble. We have our eye on you."
. . . threatens and scares employees:
"One mistake and you’re out of here."
Setting a positive tone doesn’t mean you have to coddle alcohol or other drug abusers. Some employees may need counseling or drug treatment. Although the majority of your workforce probably do not have alcohol or other drug problems, most employees welcome an organization’s efforts to help employees who do need it.
When and Where
There is no one right way to educate your employees. You may want to start with a modest effort. Over time you may choose to add other elements to the program. Employee education can include the following elements:
- A meeting with staff members or department heads to explain the organization’s policy and the drug-free workplace program
- Informational materials about the company’s program and about alcohol and other drug abuse -- pamphlets, flyers, paycheck stuffers, home mailings, free videos, and so on
- Posters and signs reminding employees that yours is a drug-free workplace and that your worksite promotes healthy activities like smoking cessation, regular exercise, and good eating habits.
The most important point is to keep the focus of the program clear and consistent. Several small steps toward employee education throughout the year are better than one large meeting with no followup.
Even though this section of the kit is about employee education, everyone benefits from education about alcohol and other drug abuse. Owners and top management, supervisors, and employees at all levels need to know about the problems associated with substance abuse and the benefits of a drug-free workplace program. To ensure the success of your drug-free workplace program, ask all upper-level managers to become familiar with the Employee Fact Sheets and the Supervisor’s Guide provided in this kit.
When resources for employee education are limited, at a minimum you need to inform your employees about the company’s drug-free workplace policy. A policy briefing should address the following:
- The rationale for the policy -- what the law requires, why the program is important to your organization, and the cost of alcohol and other drug problems in the workplace
- Details of the policy, including the consequences for violating it
- Available help for employee problems, such as an employee assistance program (EAP), if applicable, or referral to other local resources.
Providing your employees with some basic information about alcohol and other drug abuse also reinforces your policy and communicates that you care about their welfare. Extending the education to their family members can promote that concept, and can improve the chance that a troubled employee will be identified by a spouse or child. Providing basic information can be done through brief meetings, brochures and other written materials, videos, home mailings, and so on. The content might include the following:
- Hazards of alcohol and other drug abuse in the workplace (increased accidents, decreased productivity, etc.)
- How to recognize a potential alcohol or other drug problem of coworkers, family members, or friends (what to do and what not to do)
- The nature of alcohol or other drug abuse and some ways addiction can be treated
- Available resources within the organization or in the community.
A variety of informational items are provided in this kit. See the Supervisors’ Guide and the Employee Fact Sheets for more information about alcohol and other drug abuse, addiction, and recovery, and for telephone numbers of helpful resources. National, State, and local resource organizations also offer free informational materials.
|Employee Education Planning Checklist
___ Obtain and review materials. (See the Employee Fact Sheets and Supervisor’s Guide for resources.) Also, some publishing companies sell pamphlets to businesses. See the Employee Fact Sheets for a list of publishing companies and telephone numbers.
___ Tell the person who will be distributing the materials to fill in the local resource phone numbers in the spaces provided on the last page of each Employee Fact Sheet and on the posters.
___ Plan for informational sessions or distribution of materials over the long term (rather than a one-shot presentation).
___ Involve key staff in planning and followup.
___ Schedule followup meetings and/or distribute materials on a regular basis.
___ Provide referral and resource lists.
Workplace Drug & Alcohol Abuse
Dealing with Drug and Alcohol Abuse for Employees - OSHA Safety Training: Substance abuse is a huge, worldwide problem. In the United States alone there are over 50 million binge drinkers, 17 million illegal drug users and almost 15 million people who abuse prescription drugs. Most substance abusers have jobs. In fact, it is estimated that one out of every ten workers has a substance abuse problem. An employee with an alcohol or drug problem can decrease productivity, create a hostile work environment and damage a company's good name. Worst of all, the actions of a worker who is "under the influence" can completely undermine a company's efforts to keep people safe.
The first in a two-part series on dealing with drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace, Our training products on "Dealing with Drug and Alcohol Abuse for Employees" discuss the various types of substance abuse that are found in the workplace, how they can affect an employee's work situation and what employees themselves can do to help keep their workplace drug and alcohol free. Topics covered in these products include:
- How substances are typically abused by employees.
- Alcohol and other depressants, and their effects.
- Stimulants, narcotics and hallucinogens, and their effects.
- How people get "hooked" on drugs and alcohol.
- Alcohol and drug policies.
- Helping employees overcome substance abuse.
- and more.
Dealing with Drug and Alcohol Abuse for Managers - OSHA Safety Training: Substance abuse is a huge, worldwide problem. In the United States alone there are over 50 million binge drinkers, 17 million illegal drug users and almost 15 million people who abuse prescription drugs. Most substance abusers have jobs. In fact, it is estimated that one out of every ten workers has a substance abuse problem. An employee with an alcohol or drug problem can decrease productivity, create a hostile work environment and damage a company's good name. Worst of all, the actions of a worker who is "under the influence" can completely undermine a company's efforts to keep people safe.
The second in a two-part series on dealing with drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace, Our training products on "Dealing with Drug and Alcohol Abuse for Managers and Supervisors" discuss the various forms of substance abuse that are typically found in the workplace, how managers and supervisors can detect substance abuse problems, and what they should and shouldn't do if they discover a worker with a substance abuse problem. Topics covered in the products include:
- How substance abuse can affect a workplace.
- Laws and regulations related to substance abuse.
- How to help create an alcohol and drug-free workplace.
- The role of education and testing in preventing substance abuse.
- Recognizing on-the-job substance abuse.
- How to handle substance abuse situations.
- and more.
Get a Quote for a Class:
Dealing with Drug and Alcohol Abuse Live Instruction Training Courses at YOUR Location
The Supervisor’s Role
Supervisors have a variety of responsibilities within a drug-free workplace program. Supervisors should:
- Know the organization’s program and policy, including the rationale for the program and specific details about drug testing procedures, if applicable, as well as other components
- Be able to explain the program to employees
- Know where to refer employees for help and information
- Understand and accept the importance of supervision as a tool for implementing the policy -- recognizing that the supervisor is the best judge of employee performance.
Supervisors are not expected to provide substance abuse counseling. Neither should they try to diagnose alcohol or other drug problems. If a supervisor suspects an alcohol, drug-related, or other problem, particularly as evidenced by poor job performance or conduct, the employee should be referred for professional evaluation and assistance.
The Supervisor: Enforcer or Advocate?
Because an important responsibility of supervisors is to observe and evaluate employee job performance, they can be effective advocates for employees. They can encourage employees to deal with work-related problems that may or may not be connected with alcohol or other drug use. They also can suggest sources of help and support, such as an employee assistance program (EAP) or local treatment program, when an employee has problems.
If an employee has been given a chance to improve job performance but hasn’t changed his or her behavior, the supervisor may need to take a more forceful approach. Still, the emphasis should be on improving the employee’s job performance, not on judging the employee.
What Supervisors Need To Know
All supervisors should be provided with basic information about the program and their role in carrying it out. This includes:
- The rationale and specific details of the program startup and implementation
- The supervisor’s specific responsibilities for initiating and carrying out the drug-free workplace policy and program
- Ways to use the Employee Fact Sheets and/or posters and decal in this kit as a source of information and employee education
- How to recognize and deal with employees who have job performance problems that may or may not be related to alcohol or other drugs, including personal and family problems.
Guidelines For Effective Supervision
Be ready to recognize employee problems (e.g., accidents, frequent lateness, mood swings) that may or may not be related to alcohol or other drug abuse.
Focus on specific aspects of job performance.
Keep an ongoing record of the employee’s performance.
|4.||Focus on job performance.
Avoid judging, diagnosing, or counseling the employee.
Stay nonjudgmental and recognize the employee’s point of view.
Stick to the facts of job performance; don’t get sidetracked.
Follow the same procedures for all employees.
Discuss employee problems in private and keep the discussion between the two of you.
Encourage troubled employees to seek help from the resources available in the workplace or the community.
Continue to assess employee job performance over a period of time.
How To Provide Supervisor Training
Supervisor training can be provided in a variety of ways, depending on available time and resources. These can include:
- Training the supervisors yourself
- Having a consultant from a local community agency or EAP conduct the training (they may offer role playing and other training methods that are not possible with written materials only)
- Using the Supervisor Materials and Employee Fact Sheets in this kit, as well as any other materials provided by the employer or a consultant.
Supervisor Training Checklist
|___ Decide how supervisor training will be done -- where, when, by whom, and with what materials.
___ Hold a meeting to inform supervisors about the drug-free workplace program, the organization’s policy, and their role in carrying it out.
___ Distribute the Supervisor’s Guide and Employee Fact Sheets.
___ Instruct supervisors to fill in the local resource phone numbers on the last page of each Employee Fact Sheet before distributing them (if you have not already done so yourself).
___ Schedule followup training or use the materials in this kit as self-instructional guidance.
___ Follow up with additional resources, booster sessions, question-and-answer sessions, and program review.