Survey Confirms Employers Concern With Drug, Alcohol Abuse

A survey of companies in the Chicago region confirms that\r\nemployers are concerned with drug and alcohol abuse in the\r\nworkplace.

A survey of companies in the Chicago region confirms that employers are concerned with drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace.

The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, recently conducted the survey of 8,000 area companies, ranging in size from 50 to 500 employees.

Included in its findings were the fact that 38 percent of employers think some of their employees use drugs or alcohol at work. While 93 percent of the companies have rules regarding substance abuse, only 30 percent feel their approach works.

The study also found that of the employers who think their approach to substance abuse is inadequate, 30 percent do not believe their workplace is completely drug-free.

In the last 12 months, 41 percent of the employers surveyed said they had disciplined, terminated or referred employees who had come to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol to an employee assistance program.

While, 93 percent of employers have a written set of rules regarding substance abuse in place, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce found that many companies are far from having a structured drug-free workplace policy.

"A drug-free workplace policy underscores the rights and obligations of the employer to perform the various types of drug and alcohol testing that the employee willingly agrees to upon employment," said the study.

What is the best way to establish a drug-free workplace? Experts suggest setting up a substance abuse program.

Working Partners for an Alcohol-and Drug-Free Workplace a comprehensive substance abuse program typically includes five components: a written policy, supervisor training, employee education and awareness, an employee assistance program, and drug and alcohol testing.

Step 1: Write a Substance Abuse Policy

  • Before writing the policy, conduct a needs assessment to better understand your company''s situation and determine what you want the program to accomplish.
  • A written policy should include an explanation of why you are implementing a program, a description of substance abuse-related behaviors that are prohibited and an explanation of consequences for policy violators.

Step 2: Train Supervisors

  • While not expected to diagnose conditions, supervisors should be able to identify the signs of poor job performance.

Step 3: Educate Employees

  • Provide information about the dangers of alcohol and illicit drugs. Describe the impact that substance abuse can have on workplace safety, accident rates, health care costs, absenteeism, productivity and product quality.

Step 4: Provide Employee Assistance

  • Many companies use an employee assistance program (EAP) to assist workers whose job performance is negatively affected by personal problems, including substance abuse.
  • Employers have found that EAP''s are cost-effective because they help reduce accidents, workers'' compensation claims, absenteeism and employee theft.

Step 5: Drug and Alcohol Testing

  • By itself, testing is not a substance abuse program, but it can be an effective deterrent to drug use and an important tool to help employers identify workers who need help.
  • Consider who will be tested, when testing will take place, what substances will be tested, what consequences workers will face who test positive and who will administer the tests.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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