Drug testing programs vary dramatically in content and efficacy. Some are immensely successful at deterring and handling substance abuse in the workplace, while others fail to adequately address the problem. Behind every successful drug testing program is a policy that guides and dictates prevention, identification and response to drugs and alcohol in the workplace. To start creating or updating your own substance abuse program, first review the elements of an effective drug testing policy.
Elements of an Effective Drug Testing Policy
For the second consecutive year, the percentage of American workers who tested positive for illicit drugs has increased (source). To stay on top of this issue as well as handle it promptly and properly, employers must implement strong drug-free workplace programs. Substance abuse policies should be carefully composed and shared, building a bridge of trust between a company’s owners, managers, and employees. The written policy sets the tone for the program and outlines the responsibilities of both the employer and employees. Every effective drug testing policy, whether required by state law or not, should include the following components:
The purpose statement of the policy should explain the company’s reasons for testing. By detailing your intent and what you hope to achieve through drug testing, this section should answer any questions your employees have about the policy’s goals. The statement should also convey your company’s general attitude toward drug and alcohol abuse.
The authorization section will include contact information for the people authorized to answer questions about the drug testing policy. This sets up a line of communication, so that employees know who to go to for clarification.
The coverage section spells out who specifically is subject to drug testing. Many companies use random drug testing, but other options are available. For example, you might choose to use reasonable suspicion to decide who and when to test. If an employee exhibits symptoms of drug or alcohol abuse, their supervisor would instigate the testing process. Some employers test potential new employees before hiring them (pre-employment drug screening) to prevent problems before they occur. Other employers perform drug testing on anyone involved in an accident that occurs during work time or on company property.
Typically, companies drug test employees who are returning to duty after testing positive, refusing to be tested, or otherwise violating the company’s drug testing policy. They may then use follow-up drug testing to confirm the return-to-duty test results.
Prohibited Conduct Section
The prohibited conduct section of the policy explains the behaviors prohibited by the company that can trigger a drug test or other adverse employment action. For example, illicit conduct might include coming to work under the influence or testing positive for drugs or alcohol.
The consequences section of the policy states all possible consequences faced by applicants and employees if they violate the conditions of the drug and alcohol testing policy. By clearly communicating all possible consequences, employees understand what they risk by consuming violated substances.
Updating Your Policy
After spending so much time, care, and consideration creating your drug testing policy, you won’t need to review or update it for several years – right? Wrong! At least once a year, you should read through the entire policy to ensure that it accurately reflects your company’s position and procedures. In addition, you must review it following the introduction of relevant new laws. For example, some state laws regulate when and how a company may conduct drug testing. Other states are legalizing marijuana, which may influence workplace drug policies. Most recently, OSHA has issued new guidance for post-accident drug testing (source).
Your substance abuse policy should change over the years to remain current and effective. Recognize that your organization’s needs will likely change over time, and you should respond to those changes accordingly. The policy should address your company’s goals, culture, and values as well as concerns regarding safety and privacy.
Employee Awareness & Supervisor Training
All employees should be made aware of your drug testing policy and understand its purpose, requirements, and consequences. Any changes to your program should be announced to ensure everyone is aware of the alterations. Effective employee education should also include general information about the nature of substance abuse, how it can impact a person’s life (and workplace), and where one might go for assistance with substance abuse.
In addition, all managers must understand their role in the process and receive rigorous training regarding how to recognize substance abuse, document suspicious or prohibited behavior, and confront employees. You should refresh your supervisors’ memories every so often with refresher courses. An effective drug testing policy depends on trained, knowledgeable, and prepared supervisors.
Are you ready to get started?
Now that you’ve learned the elements of an effective drug testing policy, are you ready to get started? If you’re looking to implement a drug-free workplace program through drug and alcohol testing, contact Tomo Drug Testing. Based in Springfield, St. Louis, and Kansas City, Missouri, and Indianapolis, Indiana, we offer customized solutions to make drug testing simple, and our nationwide network of clinics and providers allows Tomo Drug Testing to be available anytime, anywhere. For a free needs analysis, give us a call today at 1-888-379-7697 or contact us online. We would be happy to help!