Thinking about Creating Drug & Alcohol Company Policy? 7 Questions You Should Ask when Creating or Updating your Policy
Written by Lucas Kibby, CleanFleet
Drug use by employees on and off the job has been a problem for employers for many years. Therefore, many employers utilize some form of drug testing for employees and job applicants.
What questions should you be asking yourself if looking to implement or update your drug and alcohol policy in your company? Here are the top questions that will help you when creating or updating your drug and alcohol policy:
1. Is my business in a particular industry where drug/alcohol abuse is rampant or where drug testing is mandated?
Some industries happen to create the perfect environment for addiction to take hold. The industries most affected by substance and alcohol abuse, and where you may want a random testing program, are:
- Accommodation (hotel) & Food service: This industry includes all those who work in companies that provide lodging and/or prepare meals, snacks and beverages for immediate consumption. “Hazardous drinking patterns” were identified in as many as 80% of male restaurant workers and 64% of females in the restaurant industry, according to a study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
- Construction: This includes those companies engaged in building or engineering projects, such as highways and homes. It also includes employees involved in preparing construction sites for new construction and subdivision of property for future development, as well as contractors and subcontractors. Construction workers have the 2nd highest incidence of past-month heavy alcohol use at 16.5%.
- Mining: This includes those who work in obtaining oil, coal, solid and liquid minerals, and gases from the earth through the use of wells, tunnels, digging or drilling into the ground and more. Mining industry workers have the highest incidence of past-month heavy alcohol use at a staggering 17.5%
- Utilities: The utilities sector is made up of companies that provide electric and natural gas services, steam and water services, as well as sewage removal. 11.5% rate of substance abuse
- Health Care Professionals: Between 10 and 15 percent of all medical professionals will abuse or misuse drugs at one point or another during their career.
Federally Mandated/DOT Regulated Drug and Alcohol Testing: All agencies that are a part of the following organizations are required to be tested which selects 25% of these employees for Urine Drug Screens and 10% of the employees for Breath Alcohol Tests per calendar year:
- DOT – Department of Transportation
- SAA – Airline Industry
- FTA – Transit
- RSPA – Pipeline
- FRA – Railroad
- USCG – Coast Guard/Merchant Marine
- FMCSA – Federal Motor Carriers
2. What laws are governing drug testing that may affect your business?
There are many states where random drug testing may be an invasion of privacy under tort principles. In some states, case law provides that random drug testing may only be conducted where required by statute or where a person works in a “safety-sensitive” position. Talk to CleanFleet or your company’s lawyer for details.
Drug testing for pre-employment purposes is widely accepted across industry and state lines. Employers have the right to learn more about the candidates. They also have the right to ensure that a potential new hire does not have anything worrisome in their past that could potentially harm the business or employees, like drug-addiction.
3. What is your goal or reason for drug testing?
Clearly stating when testing is needed may mean describing a threshold before testing occurs. For example, requiring post-accident testing if there was $5,000+ in damage to company property. A company’s policy could include one or all of these reasons for testing:
- Pre-employment testing
- Random testing programs
- Reasonable suspicion
- Post-accident testing
- Return-to-work and follow-up testing
4. What should I test my employees for specifically?
There are many different types of drugs to test for. Each testing method can focus on 5 types, 9 types, or a customizable testing “panel” to meet your company’s needs.
- Cannabinoid (THC)
- Opiates (codeine, morphine, 6-acetylmorphine)
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
5. How long do you want to wait for testing results?
Do you need the test immediately? Consider Rapid Testing. Rapid (Instant) Urine Testing provides results within a few minutes of the collection and is valuable for On-site of your business collections. Confirmed testing turnaround time ranges from 24 to 72 hours.
The other option is Lab Testing. Lab-based (Traditional) Urine Testing offers reliable results when performed at a certified laboratory that can provide hundreds of different drug panel configurations for your testing program. Turnaround times range from 24 to 72 hours. Testing must be done at a nearby collection site. Lab Urine Testing is the most common drug test method and permitted for DOT testing under DOT regulations.
6. What testing methods are available?
Several techniques have been developed in the last few decades to trace the ever increasing drug abuse. Among these different drug testing techniques, three collection methods have been accepted widely in the drug testing industry. These collection testing techniques are Urine Drug Testing, Oral Fluid (Saliva) Drug Testing, and Hair Drug Testing.
To see how these testing methods compare, click here.
7. How do you want to handle employees who have a repeat problem?
While it’s never an easy situation to face when a test result comes back positive (especially when the employee is a friend or a valued team member), employers who are prepared will be able to make the best decision for the employee and the company.
- Removing the employee from the workplace.The employee should be relieved of all duties at work, particularly if she or he performs a safety-sensitive job. A company does not want to put the employee or the rest of the staff at risk if the company knows the results of the test is positive.
- Offer the services of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).Before considering termination, a company may consider granting the employee a second chance by participating in an employee assistance program for treatment or counseling. Upon completion of the EAP, the employer may then bring the employee back to the workplace. Some employers such as the federal government require an EAP for any positive drug test. Set a probation period. If an employee participates in the assistance program and returns to work, the focus should be on continued recovery and easing back into work duties.
- Termination: For businesses with a zero-tolerance drug-free policy, this is the most appropriate action. Maintaining a drug free workplace is important for business growth, and consistent actions help enforce the company’s policy.