This information comes to us straight from the U.S. Department of Labor, and is meant to highlight the benefits that drug-free workplace programs bring to workers, employers, and communities.  This is the time to work toward making every week a drug-free work week.   In the past, we have discussed the effects that workers who abuse drugs or alcohol in the workplace have on their co-workers, and the company that is paying them to work.  By having the workplace drug-free, productivity can be improved and reduce costs.  It will certainly help prevent accidents and make our workplace safer. 

Recent research reveals that many workers need to hear this message again and again.  Seventy-five per cent of the nation’s current illegal drug users are employed—and 3.1 per cent say they have actually used illegal drugs before or during work hours.  Seventy-nine per cent of the nation’s heavy alcohol users are employed—and 7.1 per cent say they have actually consumed alcohol during the workday.  How would you feel if a nurse or physician taking care of you were included in these statistics?  Heavy equipment operators, those who are responsible for the safety of others, such as driving buses, trains, or even airline pilots – we don’t want to dare think that they might be part of these statistics.  Smart business strategies are used by employers who establish drug-free workplace programs to assist their employees from the potentially devastating consequences of worker alcohol and drug abuse.  This week is a good time to reinforce the importance of working drug free in positive, proactive ways. 

Listed are some of the ideas to help companies and communities promote the success of a drug-free workplace program:

  • Implement a Drug-Free Workplace Program.  If your group does not already have one, this is the time to start one.  The first step to implement this is through a written policy.
  • Promote  Drug-Free Work Week.  Be sure all employees have a copy of your policy and remind them that it is all about keeping them safe of the job.
  • Train supervisors.  Company supervisors should be trained to understand their policy on alcohol and drug use; ways to deal with workers who have performance problems related to substance abuse, and how to refer them to available assistance.
  • Remind employees of the availability of EAP or MAP services.  These are Employee or Member Assistance Programs that offer free, confidential services to help all employees resolve personal and workplace problems, such as substance abuse.  If warranted, they also offer confidential substance abuse screenings as well as brief interventions.
  • Educate workers.  Workers must be educated about the nature of alcohol and drug use and its negative impact on workplace safety and productivity. 
  • Offer health screening.  Organizations can use this week to encourage employees to assess their own use of alcohol and drugs and privately determine if they need help to change their behavior.
  • Create a Drug-Free Workplace Display.  This is a good opportunity to freshen up bulletin boards in break areas that employees frequent by posting positive messages aboaut the importance of being drug-free to their safety and that of their coworkers.
  • Allow employees time to volunteer in community drug prevention efforts.  This give employees the chance to show both their own and company commitment to substance abuse prevention both inside and outside the workplace.
  • Review your health insurance policy.  Employees that are struggling with alcohol or drug problems will seek help if this type of treatment is covered.  If it is not, consider discussing the prospect of adding coverage with your insurance carrier.
  • Issue a Drug-Free Work Week press release.  Companies should issue a public announcement to their local media to spread this important message.
  • Distribute a payroll message listing helplines or a reminder about Drug-Free Work Week for employees.  A paycheck is always something that employees pay attention to.  You could include a reminder listing sources of help for ones with any problems, and that each employee is appreciated for working drug-free.

Thanks for the Department of Labor for this information.  It’s sad to say, but almost everyone of us knows someone who has a drug or alcohol problem.  Abusing prescriptions drugs is also not acceptable behavior in the workplace.   Try to spread the message to your friends, coworkers, and community.  If you work with someone that you feels needs help, encourage him/her to seek it.  It’s not only for their good, but the safety and wellness of everyone who works, rides to work, or lives with them.  If you witness a coworker committing an unsafe act, let his supervisor know, for the safety of all.  Stay sober and stay safe.