New Year – New Policy – Updating your Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy in 2017
Written by Lucas Kibby, CleanFleet
With the beginning of a new year, it is time to review outdated workplace policies and update them to meet the new trends in 2017, especially if you have not done so in several years. Think about having an expert look over your policy to make sure it is still legal.
Be Clear On Who Will Be Tested
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.
Potential New Employees: 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.
Safety Sensitive Positions: Workplace safety is the chief concern for responsible companies. It’s easy to see how people operating machinery under the influence of alcohol or drugs could cause problems. Substance abusers are about 3.5 times more likely to be involved in accidents on the job and 5 times more likely to hurt themselves at work, according to ACDE. A company should clearly state which positions are safety-sensitive in their drug testing policy.
Industry with Known Abuse: 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
- Health Care Professionals
More States are Legalizing Medical and Recreational Marijuana
Did you know there are 26 states that have legalized Medical Marijuana and 11 states who have legalized Recreational Marijuana after this voting cycle?
The primary reason for prohibiting use of marijuana in the workplace is because smoking marijuana on the job has been linked to job accidents and injuries stemming from the short-term effects of being high such as impaired body movement, difficulty thinking, memory problems and altered senses, read about the effect here. In short, there is a link between illicit drug use and workplace accidents.
Employers should review all applicable medical marijuana laws carefully while considering the potential legal and safety risks. If your business is not federally regulated, you can set-up a policy wherever you feel comfortable starting, just be sure you clearly state when testing is required and the consequences of a positive test.
Does your policy test for Prescription Painkillers, Fentanyl, and other Opioids?
This opioid epidemic has been worsened by the national reemergence of fentanyl – a synthetic opioid which is sometimes prescribed to treat severe pain, such as in cancer patients. Fentanyl is significantly more potent that Heroin (40-50 times stronger) and carries a high risk of overdose.
Although employers may find it appropriate to expand their drug testing panels to include drugs such as prescription painkillers or Fentanyl, be sure to not make adverse employment decisions based on erroneous ideas about those prescription drugs.
Be Clear on Consequences for Refusal to Test
Your company’s “Refusal to Test” definition needs to be clear and comprehensive. For example, employees selected for drug testing often attempt to delay the test.
Make sure your policy makes it clear what the consequences are for a refusal to test – like termination. The following are some examples of conduct that can be considered a refusal to test:
- Failure to appear for any test after being directed to do so by your employer.
- Failure to remain at the testing site until the testing process is complete.
- Failure to provide a urine or breath sample for any test required by federal regulations.
- Failure to permit the observation or monitoring of you providing a urine sample.
- Failure to take a second test when directed to do so.
- Failure to cooperate with any part of the testing process
Train Supervisors to make Reasonable Suspicion Determinations
Do your supervisors effectively enforce your drug and alcohol testing policy? Do they really know what constitutes reasonable suspicion?
Update your company’s policy to make supervisors’ responsibilities clear and train them to enforce the policy diligently and effectively.
Also, sign up for Reasonable Suspicion Training classes. For DOT regulated companies, managers must have passes a Reasonable Suspicion Training with documentation or else could be heavily fined by the government. Click here to learn about CleanFleet’s two hour online training course.
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, 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.
- 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.
When was the last time you reviewed your policy?
At CleanFleet, we look over Drug and Alcohol policies every day. As a best-in-class testing service provider, let us review your company’s policy. Email or call us if you have questions at 503-479-6082.