Getting started

Virtually all large companies, and many smaller businesses, have adopted and implemented substance abuse policies. If you are in that minority without a policy addressing this important issue, here are some suggestions for getting started.

B>Tailor the program to your company and employees.

Developing a drug policy is not a “one-size-fits-all” proposition. Different companies have different legal requirements. Some industries — trucking, for example — are subject to federal mandates in regard to drug testing. Industrial firms with employees operating heavy equipment will want to have more stringent policies than a service company with office staff.

B>Confer with your professional advisers — in corporate risk management, human resources and legal counsel.

Drug testing and substance abuse policies should be integrated into your corporate risk and safety programs in order to be effective. They are also a vital part of the company’s employee handbook. All records must be kept confidential. Link the substance abuse policy to the company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Commit to the policy.

Substance abuse programs and drug testing are only worthwhile, and legal, if uniformly and consistently applied. Disparate treatment of employees or of applicants for a position is a sure invitation for a lawsuit.

Understand the costs and benefits.
Make an informed decision on the expenses of implementing a substance abuse program — testing, reporting, follow-up. The benefits will be empirical as well as qualitative. Source: Gordon R. Friedrich, vice president and corporate counsel, The Reserves Network