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Employers who have implemented drug-free workplace programs have important experiences to share:
THE DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE ACT: THE BASICS
Drug-Free workplace programs can help employers create cost effective, safe, and healthy environments for employees. Early studies have indicated that a successful drug-free workplace programs have at-least five key components:
A WRITTEN POLICY
When developing a policy, organizations need to take into account factors such as drug-free workplace laws and regulations that may apply to them, characteristics of their workplace and employees, and the organization leaders’ values and priorities. When it comes to drug-free workplace policies and programs, one size does not fit all different organizations in the same industries and in different
industries may address workplace drug use and abuse in a variety of ways. There are many options. It is vital that organizations go through the steps needed to ensure that the drug-free workplace policy is right for their workplace and their workers. Every business owner and every department director will want to talk with their employees and with colleagues in other organizations and gather accurate information about the challenges, problems, and strengths unique to their workplaces.
There are many reasons to put the drug-free workplace policy in writing:
Other Elements of a Drug-Free Policy Include:
Employee education is a critical component of a drug-free workplace program. Frequently a cornerstone of prevention, employee education can help employees in a variety of ways. It can help them learn more about the hazards of substance abuse and improve their own resilience to prevent substance abuse. It can help them understand the policies and rules of their workplaces and become familiar with the steps they can take to get help for themselves and their families.
Employee education efforts can include information on the rights of employees and employers; the balance between the right of privacy and the need to know; the workplace’s views about when treatment and recovery, or detection and disciplinary action, are appropriate; the implications of substance abuse for injury, accidents, and safety.
As you plan your emplyee education, make sure it is aimed at all employees and all levels of the organization.
Consider taking the following steps:
Employee education components can use a variety of multimedia approaches. Orientation programs for new hires, for example, frequently include video presentations that provide general information about substance abuse and more specific information about the organization. More traditional methods have included the use of posters, print materials, payroll stuffers, newsletter articles, booths at health/wellness programs, and brownbag lunch presentations. Inhouse employee assistance practitioners often get to know employees by eating lunch with them, having drop-in discussions at meetings, and meeting with them individually to discuss employee relations issues, family problems, and the like. Other in-house methods have included online information resources, seminars, and in-person and online trainings.
More and more organizations understand that substance abuse education and prevention must be ongoing processes that evolve beyond an emphasis on substance abuse policies, information, assistance, and discipline. In many cases, alcohol and other drug problems will have adverse impacts on employers, employees, and their families, even when the problems never come to the attention of management, the union, the employee assistance program, a health and wellness program, or a substance abuse treatment program. Many employees do not seek help for their alcohol or drug problems because the problems and the assistance are often stigmatized. However, when alcohol and drug interventions are linked to health and wellness promotion efforts-as is done in some of the newer approaches-the stigma is reduced and employees are more willing to seek the help they need.