Special Topics in Safety Management

What Are You Doing for Drug-Free Work Week?

Next week is Drug-Free Work Week. The purpose of this event is to reinforce the importance of keeping your workplace drug- and alcohol-free. Discover how you can promote a safer, drug-free workplace next week and all year long.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which sponsors Drug-Free Work Week, says that this event is dedicated to highlighting the benefits that drug-free workplace programs bring to employers, employees, and communities. It’s also a time to work toward making every week a drug-free work week.

Drug-Free Work Week spreads the word that working drug free:

  • Prevents accidents and make workplaces safer
  • Improves productivity and reduces costs
  • Encourages people with alcohol and drug problems to seek help

According to recent research, it’s a message that many workers need to hear.

  • 75 percent of the nation’s current illegal drug users are employed—and 3.1 percent say they have actually used illegal drugs before or during work hours.
  • 79 percent of the nation’s heavy alcohol users are employed—and 7.1 percent say they have actually consumed alcohol during the workday.

Drug-free workplace programs help protect employers and employees alike from the potentially devastating consequences of worker alcohol or drug abuse. Establishing policies, educating about the dangers of alcohol and drug use, deterring and detecting use, and urging people to seek help for alcohol and drug problems are smart safety strategies. They’re also smart business strategies.

If you need drug-free workplace training, try BLR’s Total Training Resource: Drug-Free Workplace, a comprehensive training course that provides all the information you need to promote a drug-free work environment. Try it at no cost or risk.

What Can You Do Next Week?

Here are some ideas from DOL for ways to promote Drug-Free Work Week:

  • Promote your Drug-Free Workplace Program. Distribute a copy of your drug-free workplace policy to all employees, along with a positive message about putting a high personal value on health and safety. Provide an opportunity for workers to ask questions about your policy.
  • Train supervisors. Your supervisors are the individuals closest to your workforce and, therefore, the ones most likely to identify substance abuse problems. Make sure supervisors understand your drug and alcohol policy as well as approved ways to deal with workers who have performance problems that may be related to substance abuse. Also, make sure they know how to refer employees to available assistance.
  • Educate workers. Drug-Free Work Week is an ideal time to talk about substance abuse and its negative impact on workplace safety and productivity. Spread the word through training sessions, guest speakers, safety meetings, coffee-break training, or brown-bag lunches.

Total drug-free workplace training for supervisors and employees all in one computer-based package. Get the details.

  • Remind employees about the availability of EAP services. If your organization has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Drug-Free Work Week offers a perfect opportunity to remind workers of the availability of assistance for substance abuse problems. Explain that these programs provide free, confidential services to help all employees, including supervisors, resolve personal and workplace problems such as substance abuse. EAPs also offer confidential substance abuse screenings as well as brief intervention, if warranted, and can help employees locate local treatment resources.
  • Offer health screening. You can use Drug-Free Work Week to encourage employees to assess their own use of alcohol and drugs and privately determine if they need help to change their behavior. For example, you can inform employees about the confidential, self-administered online screening tool at AlcoholScreening.org and make sure all employees have access to the Internet in a private location in case they want to use it. Availability of confidential substance abuse screenings by qualified professionals could also be publicized and offered by the EAP health unit and/or occupational nurse.
  • Publicize available community treatment resources. Whether or not you have an onsite EAP or health unit, help for substance abuse problems is likely available nearby through a hospital, local health department, or stand-alone substance abuse treatment center. Furthermore, self-help programs, such as the 12-step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon, are free and available in communities nationwide. Drug-Free Work Week is a great time to remind employees about community resources that can be helpful for a person struggling with a substance abuse problem or those who are close to him or her.

Tomorrow, we’ll continue with our look at Drug-Free Work Week and offer more suggestions for promotions you can organize for next week.

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