• 9 Important Characteristics of an Effective, Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace Program

    An effective drug-free workplace program strikes the balance between two philosophies. The first is sending clear message and the second is encouraging employees to seek for help in case of drug problem. It helps provide a safe place to work, discourages alcohol and drug use, and encourages treatment and recovery for employees with drug problem.

    Designing and implementing a drug-free workplace program can be time-consuming. Therefore, we are enumerating 9 important characteristics that your organization should consider to make a comprehensive and effective drug-free workplace program.

    1. Must be clear and complete – Before starting a drug-free workplace program, your organization must learn about the existing labor, federal, and state laws that deal with workplace drug abuse. The drug-free program must be planned carefully and must be referred to law experts for advice and corrections. It must also state goals and expected outcomes, such as maintaining violence-free workplace, boosting employee morale, improving employee productivity, and so forth.

    2. Must be fair to employees – The drug-free workplace program must state the employees’ rights to access drug test results, make an appeal for any positive drug test result, and seek recovery treatment when necessary – among others. It should also be open to employee suggestions and complaints. After all, a drug-free workplace program should be seen as a strategy to improve employees’ workplace safety and quality of life.

    3. Must contain a written policy – A drug-free workplace program should have clear written policies and procedures that will be distributed in visible worksites. The policy must include provisions of appeal and must be consistently applied.

    4. Must consider the collective bargaining process – If applicable, your drug-free workplace program must also be properly discussed with a union of representatives.

    5. Must protect confidentiality – The drug-free workplace policy must ensure that the right of employees to privacy is protected. It must spell the process of drug testing and state the consequences for those who violate the process. Your organization must also know the proper ways to keep and dispose drug test results.’

    6. Must ensure accurate testing and objective review – Since drug testing is an important component of a drug-free workplace program, an organization must ascertain the following:

    • Samples are correctly collected
    • The chain of custody is properly imposed
    • The tests are properly  conducted by well trained and supervised lab technicians
    • The results are communicated through a Medical Review Officer when needed

    7. Must undergo expert’s review – The first and final draft of the drug-free workplace policy must be reviewed by a lawyer. Lawyers have the widest knowledge about labor and employment making them the most reliable people to advise you on relevant state laws governing workplace drug use. They can also alert you about the changes on existing rules and regulations that you might not be fully aware of.

    8. Must address workplace drug abuse in the context of health, safety, and productivity –Your drug-free workplace policy must not aim to intimidate employees; instead, it should discourage your staff to stay away from drug use.   It must be imposed to promote good health, safety, and productivity among employees. A drug-free workplace program that thinks about the welfare of the organization’s employees eliminates social stigma and is proven to be more effective and successful.

    9. Must ensure good communication and ongoing review – An effective drug-free workplace program must ensure that both employers and employees are knowledgeable about their roles, rights, and responsibilities under the program. The program must also be communicated effectively (i.e. the organization may facilitate a drug education program or hold meetings, question-and-answer session, and seminars, as well as distribute suggestion box for employees). Employers should also keep track on how the program works on daily basis, invite feedback, and revise program in case of changes on existing rules and regulations.

    Additional resources:

    http://www.dol.gov/elaws/asp/drugfree/drugs/planning.asp

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    Categories: Workplace Drug Testing

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