Drug-Free Workplace Program

Zero-tolerance drug policies are a cost-effective strategy with many benefits

What is a drug-free workplace program?

A drug-free workplace program is a policy businesses can establish to prevent drug abuse among their employees. The components of a drug-free workplace can vary, but successful programs often have these five elements:

  • Written policy
  • Employee education
  • Supervisor/management training
  • Employee assistance program (EAP)
  • Drug tests

What are the benefits of a zero-tolerance drug policy?

The most obvious benefits are reduced drug use among employees, lower absenteeism, and increased productivity. In addition, many states offer workers’ compensation premium discounts when you have a drug-free workplace program in place. 

Employers with longstanding drug-free policies report reduced use of medical benefits by employees and their families and better health among employees. Not only can you save a percentage on workers’ comp, but the premium is very likely to decrease with a drug-free policy.

Is drug abuse really a problem in the workplace?

Yes – and the statistics speak volumes. Several studies have found that drug abusers in the workplace are more likely to:

  • Be less productive
  • Be late or absent
  • File a workers’ comp claim
  • Change jobs frequently
  • Reduce co-workers’ morale
  • Be involved in an accident

Drug abusers involved in accidents also commonly injure others, especially in safety-sensitive industries like transportation and construction.

What qualifies employers for a drug-free workers’ comp credit?

Employers seeking to take advantage of this premium credit must:

  • Pay annual workers’ comp of at least $5,000
  • Achieve an experience rating (MOD) of under 1.3 in the previous year
  • Have a safety incentive program
  • Have a drug and alcohol prevention program (that meets several specific criteria)

How can I set up a drug-free policy?

To implement a successful drug-free workplace program, businesses should include the following five elements:

  • Policy
  • Education
  • Training
  • Employee assistance program (EAP)
  • Drug tests

Creating program awareness through employee handbooks, newsletters, new hire orientations, health fairs and bulletins, among other means, can boost program success.

Are there any laws associated with drug-free policies?

Yes, the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires federal grantees and recipients of federal contracts (of $100,000 or more) to have a drug-free workplace program in order to receive grants from or contract with federal agencies. For companies that are not federal grantees, setting up a drug-free workplace still has benefits.

Additionally, the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act outlines the requirements for a drug-free workplace.

In New York, Industrial Code Rule 60 dictates the drug-free requirements for workers’ comp premium credits. Other states have similar programs.

How can Mobile Health help set up a drug-free workplace?

Mobile Health can work with your business to perform a needs assessment and set up a drug-free policy. We also handle all drug testing needs your program requires through our 6,500+ nationwide clinics.

Mobile Health can administer blood, hair, and SAMHSA & DOT-certified urine drug tests. These tests detect anywhere from 5 to 13 commonly abused drugs. All results are then available to view online through our client portal. Furthermore, a Medical Review Officer verifies the validity of positive results before reporting an accurate final result.

We can also provide materials for educating employees and training supervisors on the nature and scope of your drug-free workplace program. This will help make you fully eligible for workers’ discounts.

Does Mobile Health have a Medical Review Officer (MRO)?

Yes. Mobile Health’s Medical Review Officer (MRO) is a medical doctor (MD) that will determine if there is a legitimate medical reason for a positive drug test result. Employees will have the chance to provide evidence of any prescribed drugs that could have caused the positive test result.

Mobile Health’s MRO protects the rights of employees by offering a fair opportunity to explain the results of a drug test. Our MRO also protects the rights of employers in case of litigation resulting from a positive drug test.

When might an employer with a drug-free policy require a drug test?

There are six occasions upon which an employer might give a drug test. These are:

  • Pre-employment: This reduces the chances of hiring a drug user and enforces the drug-free policy.
  • Annual: This type of test is often required by your local Department of Health and the Department of Transportation, but can also be a good yearly reminder of your strict drug-free policy.
  • At random: Random drug tests send the message that drug use is not only discouraged but never permitted.
  • Reasonable suspicion: If an employee has a history of unsafe behavior or does not appear fit for duty, this type of test can be an effective tool for identifying the issue.
  • Post-accident: This is a test given in response to an accident or incident involving unsafe behavior.
  • Return-to-duty: This is a test given after an employee has completed a treatment program for drug abuse.

What actions may be taken in the event of a failed drug test?

Depending on the work environment and individual circumstances, actions to take may include:

  • Referral to an Employee Assistance Program for assistance concerning drug use.
  • Referral to more extensive treatment options.
  • Disciplinary action: Suspension, dismissal, or firing. These are more extreme consequences.