Keep It Clean
September 1, 2011
Substance abusers in the workplace cost their employers time and money. They are 10 times more likely to miss work and 33 percent less productive, according to the American Council for Drug Education. What may be even more concerning to employers is the fact that substance abusers are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in on-the-job accidents and five times more likely to injure themselves or another in the process. They are also five times more likely to file workers’ compensation claims.
According to the 2008National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 72 percent of drug users are employed. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 79 percent of the nation’s heavy alcohol users are employed—and 7.1 percent say they have actually consumed alcohol during the workday. In addition, 75 percent of the nation’s current illegal drug users are employed—and 3.1 percent say they have actually used illegal drugs before or during work hours. To help protect their operations from becoming part of these statistics, truckstop and travel plaza owners can implement a drug- and alcohol-free workplace program and create cost-effective, safe and healthy workplaces.
Scott Paulson, principal of SilcoOil Co., in Denver, Colo., recently implemented a drug- and alcohol-free workplace program. Paulson utilized resources from Federated Insurance, including posters, written policies and consent-to-drug-testing forms.
Drug- and alcohol-free workplace programs show employees their well-being is important and attract employees who are free of drugs and alcohol. That encourages a clear-thinking, professional workplace and can also result in fewer injuries. A safer workplace can lead to improved workers compensation modifiers and lower insurance premiums. It also helps prevent bad publicity from being associated with the business.
Paulson said, “Hire the right people who are hardworking, and then keep them happy. Nothing happens without good employees.”
Developing a Workplace Program
Drug- and alcohol-free workplace programs are a proven risk management strategy to help protect both employers and employees from the potentially devastating consequences of worker alcohol or drug abuse. When crafting a program, operators need to ensure they are following federal and state laws surrounding drug-free workplace programs.
Programs need a written drug and alcohol policy that will serve as the foundation for the program. The policy should send a clear message that use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace is not permitted and encourage employees with alcohol and drug problems to voluntarily seek help. Employers will need to determine if the policy will include drug testing, and when and how that testing will be conducted.
Drug-free workplace programs are not one size- fits-all. While programs can vary, overall they should contain four key components that support the written policy: employee education, supervisor training, an employee assistance program and drug testing.
EMPLOYEE EDUCATION: Employers will want to make their entire organization aware of the benefits of the drug- and alcohol-free workplace policy and program. Educate everyone about the problems associated with the use and misuse of substances. Employees at all levels should be prepared for implementation of the policy.
SUPERVISOR TRAINING: Truckstop and travel plaza operators will want to create customized supervisor training that takes into account the particular characteristics of the operation. Overall, supervisor training should include an explanation of the policy and program, ways to recognize potential problems and how to act in a confidential manner. Training should also teach supervisors how to record documentation in a fair, systematic way, how to refer to appropriate services and how to reintegrate substance abusers into the workplace after they’ve sought help.
EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM: An employee assistance program (EAP) can enhance the work climate of an organization and promote the health and well-being of everyone involved. EAPs are usually multifaceted programs designed to help employees with personal problems that affect job performance. Some EAPs concentrate primarily on alcohol and other drug problems, although many address a wide range of employee problems.
DRUG TESTING: Drug testing can help protect a business from the negative effects of alcohol and other drug abuse. A drug-testing program can deter employees from coming to work unfit for duty and discourage alcohol and other drug abusers from joining the business in the first place.
This article originally ran in Stop Watch magazine. Stop Watch provides in-depth content to assist NATSO members in improving their travel plaza business operations and provides context on trends and news affecting the industry.
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