Substance abuse in the workplace, Part 2: Honoring Drug-Free Work Week

In our last post, we looked at the destructive effects of substance abuse in the workplace. That was the bad news. But today, we’ll focus on the good news: What you can do to protect your company from the dangers of substance abuse – and in turn, help preserve employee productivity, morale and safety.

Drug-Free Work Week is October 19-25, which means now is the perfect opportunity to launch a successful drug-free workplace program. Here are some ways you can make the most of it:

Implement a drug-free workplace policy – A workplace policy is the foundation of any drug-free workplace program. If you don’t already have one, you should create a policy that addresses how your organization defines substance abuse, what behavior is expected of employees, who is covered by the policy, when the policy applies (work hours only or at after-hours events, too?), who is responsible for enforcing the policy, and whether the policy includes any form of testing for alcohol or other drugs.

Promote your drug-free workplace program - Once you have a program, you’ve got to get the word out and get employees involved. Hand out Substance Abuse Fact Sheets to remind employees about the effects substance abuse can have on the workplace.

Train supervisors and educate workers - Be certain supervisors understand your policies (as outlined in a supervisor-specific handbook) for addressing substance abuse. In addition, provide guidelines and support materials that help supervisors deal with substance abuse legally and effectively.

Remind employees about the availability of employee-assistance services - These free, confidential services can help employees overcome substance abuse problems.

Offer health screenings - Let employees know about the resources available to them
to evaluate whether they have a substance abuse problem. Consider giving employees breathalizer alcohol detectors during holiday breaks when alcohol consumption is more likely and encourage them to test alcohol levels before driving.

Review your health insurance policy - Employees are more likely to seek help if your policy includes coverage for substance abuse treatment. Consider the cost benefit of adding such coverage over the cost of an accident and lost productivity.

Allow employees time to volunteer in community drug-prevention efforts - Organize a team of volunteers to help support local drug-prevention programs, or grant time off for employees who are involved in other drug-awareness and prevention efforts.

Create a drug-free workplace display - Dedicate an area of your workplace, such as a breakroom bulletin board, for raising awareness of your drug-free workplace policy through informative posters.

Feature Drug-Free Work Week in the employee newsletter or intranet - This feature can contain helpful information about the impact of drugs on the workplace, sources of help, and things workers can do if they think a colleague may have a substance abuse problem.

Distribute a payroll message listing helplines or a reminder about Drug-Free Work Week for employees - Include a message reminding employees about Drug-Free Work Week that contains a listing of resources available for them to learn more about substance abuse in the workplace.

Hold a social event celebrating safety and health - Put together a pizza lunch or other worktime activity to help reinforce the message that drugs and alcohol aren’t necessary to relax.

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