It is quite common today to find that an employer will require employment applicants to submit to what is referred to as a pre employment drug screen. You will find that this is the most common sort of drug testing done by businesses. The majority of pre employment testing is done by testing urine.
Drug-Free Workplace Programs:
Are They Worth the Time?
What Are the Risks, Costs, and Benefits?
How can you judge if your organization will benefit from a drug-free workplace program? The following information can help you assess the risks, costs, and benefits in relation to your own needs and resources.
Assessing Your Workplace
The assessment process is not an exact science. There are no right or wrong answers. One way to begin an assessment is to analyze the cost of alcohol and other drug abuse, such as health care utilization costs and losses due to theft, absenteeism, and accidents. Monitoring these same costs over time can help you assess the impact and success of your drug-free workplace program.
The risks, costs, and benefits will differ with every organization. A careful assessment can show which program options offer clear advantages and are affordable and which ones are not needed at this time. The following are some questions you should ask when deciding the best course of action.
What Are the Risks?
Consider for a moment a variety of scenarios in which a substance abuser might affect your workplace:
Do certain employees perform key functions of the organization?
- Brokers handling large sums of money
- Technicians monitoring essential equipment such as computers, nuclear power dials, etc.
- Salespersons representing the company
Do you have employees in positions where alcohol or other drug abuse would be difficult to detect?
- Employees who work at home
- Traveling salespersons
- Home health care workers
Do you have employees in "safety sensitive" jobs?
- Driving vehicles
- Operating machinery
- Managing a place of public entry such as a security checkpoint
Do you have employees in "security sensitive" jobs?
- Responsible for inventory or stock
- Responsible for ideas, products, plans, and proprietary material
- Responsible for financial accounting or cash
- Responsible for confidential documents
Then ask: Can you afford to lose a valuable employee who is in trouble?
- Will loss of the employee affect this year’s productivity and bottom line?
- How much will it cost to recruit, hire, and train someone new?
- What do you predict would happen to production and client satisfaction if an alcohol or other drug abuse problem goes unresolved?
For some employers, one accident, one major financial problem, or one breach of confidentiality can place the entire operation in jeopardy. If someone in your workforce is not fit to perform his or her job because of alcohol or other drug abuse, the risk may be significant.
What Are the Benefits?
Drug-free workplace programs can have both short and long-term benefits. Employers who have already started drug-free workplace programs report significant benefits:
- Cost savings and incentive programs offered by
- Medical and health insurance carriers
- Property, casualty, and liability insurance carriers
- Workers’ Compensation insurance carriers
- Less chance that a current user/abuser will apply for a job or be hired
- Ability to respond quickly when problems with alcohol or other drug abuse arise
- Fewer accidents
- Fewer disciplinary actions
- Reduced losses due to absenteeism, theft, and fraud
- Improved employee morale and productivity
- Lower costs due to losses and errors
- Reduced costs of insurance claims
- Greater employee awareness about alcohol and other drug abuse as well as other health issues
- Earlier identification and resolution of problems affecting job performance
- Decreased legal costs and costs of hiring and training new employees
The Costs of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse
In 1989 the Department of Labor took a comprehensive look at the costs of alcohol and other drug abuse in the workplace. Some costs were easy to see. Others were hidden costs employers might not normally think about. The list below offers a basis for assessing the possible costs of alcohol and other drug abuse in your workplace:
- Wages paid for days absent or for time tardy
- Wages paid for temporary staff to fill in
- Wages paid for days absent
- Wages paid for unproductive hours during downtime
- Wages paid for temporary personnel
- Increased expenses for medical claims
- Cost of replacing damaged equipment
- Legal fees, court fees, investigative fees, travel costs
- Health Care
- Increased costs for insurance, physicians, and hospitalization
- Employee time lost
- Administrative costs
- Wages paid for unproductive hours during downtime
- Cost of repairing damage or replacing stolen items
- Cost of hiring security services and/or consulting services
- Legal fees, court fees, investigative costs, travel costs
In addition, business opportunities may be lost because people are not on the job or are not fully productive. Another major cost is the time spent by coworkers, supervisors, and administrators who must find ways to get the work done when someone is not pulling his or her weight.
Keep in mind that while there may be more cases of alcohol and other drug abuse in larger firms than in smaller ones, a single troubled employee can have a major impact on a smaller firm.
Calculating the Cost of a Drug-Free Workplace Program
A common response to the idea of a drug-free workplace program, especially among smaller organizations, is "Fine, I’d like to do something, but what will it cost me?" The costs will vary depending on how much you want to do (a decision based on your assessment of the risks), how much help you can get from your local community and other resources, your geographic location, whether or not you hire consultants, and other details of your overall program. As you review your costs, keep in mind that a drug-free workplace program will also bring the benefits listed in the previous section.
A drug-free workplace program could include costs for:
- Policy development and review
- Employee education and training
- Supervisor training
- Employee assistance
- Drug testing
To find out how much your particular program will cost, use the worksheet above. First, break the program into components or tasks, then estimate the number of hours that might be spent by you or others on each one and multiply by the hourly rates. Below are some of the tasks that are typically involved in developing a program:
- Write a policy or develop a program with the assistance of this kit and technical advice from CSAP’s Workplace Helpline (1-800-WORKPLACE). Costs should include a review by your attorney.
- Train your supervisors or employees yourself, using the materials in this kit to assist you.
- Consult with other employers in your area who are addressing the problem of alcohol and other drug abuse in the workplace. Work together on shared program costs to save time and money.
- Create an employee team to develop a policy and implement training under your direction.
- Ask your insurance company for assistance with developing a program and educating employees. Also, ask for help in reviewing alcohol and other drug abuse treatment options that may be covered under your insurance plan.
- Hire a counselor or substance abuse expert by contacting a local hospital, treatment center, or employee assistance program provider. Ask for help with developing your policy and/or providing training to your supervisors, who would then train your employees. Treatment options for troubled employees or referrals to treatment facilities might also be included.
- Consult a local drug-free workplace consortium for help.
For a Free Consultation on setting up a Drug Free Workplace, give us a call at 801-596-2709