Promoting a drug-free workplace

The Importance of Promoting and Maintaining a Drug-Free Workplace

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.  Although twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, and four have legalized it for both medicinal and recreational use, it remains an illegal substance under federal law. A survey conducted by EMPLOYERS confirmed that more than three quarters of small business owners believe it is dangerous for their employees to perform their job while under the influence of any illicit substance (including alcohol, marijuana, heroin and cocaine) or prescription painkillers. More than five percent of respondents indicated they had direct experience with an employee reporting for work under the influence of marijuana. With additional marijuana legislation pending in states across the country, it is more important than ever for small business owners to have drug-free workplace policies that protect their businesses, employees and customers from the risks associated with on-the-job impairment. Regardless of the marijuana laws impacting your state, it is a good idea to revisit or re-establish your business’s drug-free policy annually. All employees should be aware of the rules and regulations, as well as the consequences of using controlled or illicit substances on and off the job.

Here are three tips to consider when developing or assessing your company’s drug tolerance policy:

1. Build employee awareness
Maintaining a drug-free workplace starts with educating employees about the dangers of drug use on the job and assuring they understand your company’s policies pertaining to it. Your workers compensation insurance carrier can provide signage, guidance on developing your policy and suggestions for communicating the policy to employees.

2. Establish guidelines
Create a drug tolerance workplace policy that informs employees about the specific drug-related activities that are prohibited as part of their employment. These should specifically address: prohibiting manufacturing, distributing or dispensing marijuana or other controlled or illicit substances, which substances are prohibited by the company, and what the consequences are for failing to comply with company policies. Some businesses go a step further and require periodic drug testing for all employees.

3. Enforce consequences
In addition to communicating what the consequences are if an employee fails to follow company policy, the rules also need to be enforced. For many businesses, failure to comply with a drug-free workplace policy can result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. As marijuana usage laws continue to evolve, it is important that your business is protected with the right policies and adequate insurance. Instituting and enforcing drug-free workplace policies can help you maintain a strong, healthy and safe business.

Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration (SAMHSA). State Medical Marijuana Laws. National Conference of State Legislatures.


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