LWCC Provides Tips For A Drug-Free Workplace


Baton Rouge, LA  (CompNewsNetwork) - In recognition of National Drug-Free Work Week (October 20-26), Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corporation (LWCC) is reminding employers to educate their employees that a drug-free workplace is a vital component of a safe workplace. 

A recent study by the University of Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions found that an estimated 14.1 percent (17.7 million) of working American adults used illicit drugs last year. Of those, an estimated 3.1 percent (3.9 million) were under the influence during work hours.

According to Mike Page, LWCC director of safety and loss prevention, "While LWCC encourages a 100% drug-free workplace regardless of industry, as rebuilding continues in south Louisiana following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav, we strongly encourage the construction industry to do everything within its power to provide a safe and drug-free workplace. Research from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that the construction industry has high rates of worker alcohol and drug abuse - a serious concern given that it also tops the list of industries with the highest rates of occupational accidents and injuries."
In addition to construction, other occupations with high rates of reported illegal substance use include: food preparers, waiters and waitresses. Lower rates of use were reported for data clerks, personnel specialists and secretaries. Substance abuse in the workplace is also higher among males than females; higher among part-time versus full-time workers, and higher among workers 18-25 years old versus 26 years old and older.

Recognizing impairment on the job is key and there are many steps that employers can take to create a drug-free work environment, including providing a written policy, providing employee education, providing supervisor training, offering an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and implementing a drug testing program.

"A drug-free workplace helps prevent accidents, improves productivity and reduces costs, and it encourages people with alcohol and drug problems to get the help they need before it's too late," says Page. "While National Drug-Free Work Week is officially recognized for a week in the month of October, it is crucial for both employers and employees to make every week an alcohol- and drug-free work week."
As part of its ongoing commitment to helping businesses integrate safety management into their company culture, LWCC provides a variety of online articles and resources on this and other important workplace safety topics. For more information, visit LWCC's website at www.lwcc.com.

There are numerous performance and behavior problems that are common to many employees who abuse alcohol and/or other drugs. It is important to note that if an employee displays these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that he or she has a substance abuse problem.

The following are possible signs of alcohol or drug abuse in the workplace:
Inconsistent work quality
Poor concentration
Lowered productivity
Increased absenteeism
Unexplained disappearances from the jobsite
Carelessness, mistakes
Errors in judgment
Needless risk taking
Disregard for safety
Extended lunch periods and early departures

Frequent financial problems
Avoidance of friends and colleagues
Blaming others for own problems and shortcomings
Complaints about problems at home
Deterioration in personal appearance
Complaints and excuses of vaguely defined illnesses

When an employee's performance deteriorates for whatever reason, his/her supervisor has an obligation to intervene. The supervisor does not need to be an expert on alcohol and drug abuse to do so because the intervention should be focused on the employee's performance problem.
Supervisors who need to confront a staff member about a performance problem that may be related to substance abuse may follow the principles of intervention below.

Maintain control:
Stick to the facts as they affect work performance.
Do not rely on memory; have all supporting documents and records available.
Do not discuss alcohol or drug use.
Be clear and firm:
Explain company policy concerning performance.
Explain company drug-free workplace policy.
Explain consequences if performance expectations are not met.
Be supportive, but avoid emotional involvement:
Offer help in resolving performance problems.
Identify resources for help in addressing personal problems.
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