Center for Substance
Workplace Resource Center Drug-Free Workplace Program
What is a "Drug-Free Workplace?"
It is an employment setting where all employees adhere to a program
of policies and activities designed to provide a safe Workplace,
discourage alcohol and drug abuse and encourage treatment,
recovery and the return to work of those employees with such abuse
How Long Have "Drug-Free Workplaces" Existed?
Efforts to address employee performance problems, including those
related to alcohol and , later, to drugs have been ongoing for several
decades. In one early and very ambitious effort of the Ford Motor
Company, a 1914 profit sharing plan was supplemented by Sociological
Department visits to workers' homes to evaluate their lives. Workers
who failed to conform to the Ford idea of virtue, i.e.,
sobriety, fidelity, thrift, etc., had their profit sharing suspended.
If workers did not redeem themselves in six months, they lost their
jobs as well as their share of the profits.
Despite the understandable resentment caused by such investigations
of private and family life, Ford and hundreds of other employers
had comprehended an important relationship between the worker and
the worker's live, i.e., that family quarrels and alcohol problems
had an immediate negative effect on work output.
Twenty-five years later, in the pre-war and wartime shipyards of
California, Washington,, and Oregon, high turnover, accidents, and
absenteeism were epidemic in nature. At the Kaiser yards, these
problems were attributed to the generally poor health status of
workers recruited from small communities throughout the country,
where inadequate nutrition and medical attention were
common. The solution was the creation of an in-house health care
delivery system financed by payroll deductions. The Kaiser plan,
which exists today as on f the country's largest independent health
maintenance organizations, comprehended another important relationship:
that existing between worker health and productivity.
These early programs were followed by routine provisions within
companies' policies and collective bargaining agreements, often
acknowledged and supported by unions, that prohibited "drinking
on the job." As employers began to understand that healthy,
happy and sober employees turn out the best products, these early
efforts evolved into what are known today as employee assistance
programs (EAPs) which, in addition to alcohol and drug abuse, address
a variety of other employee problems that can effect performance
on the job. Today, the concept of a "Drug-Free Workplace"
has become the norm with large and medium size employers. Efforts
are continually made by Federal, State, and civic and community
organizations to bring the Drug-Free Workplace experience to a
greater percentage of smaller employers.
What Are the Characteristics of an Effective, Comprehensive
Drug-Free Workplace Program?
Active, visible leadership and support of the program by
Clear, written Drug-Free Workplace policies and procedures
that are applied uniformly
Employee and union involvement in program development of
Management, supervisors, unions representatives and employees
who are knowledgeable about their roles, rights and responsibilities
under the Drug-Free Workplace policy
Access to treatment and follow-up for employees who are having
Methods of identifying alcohol and drug abusers, including
drug testing, for the purpose of providing the opportunity for treatment,
recovery and the return to work
What Are the Components of a Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace
The "Drug-Free Workplace" is a more recent term and concept
introduced by the Federal government's policy for its employees
in 1986 and promulgated in the private sector by the President's
Drug Advisory Council. A comprehensive approach to having a Drug-Free
Workplace would include:
- A written policy
- Access to assistance
- Employee education
- Supervisor training
- Drug testing
Supported by public opinion, legislation and regulation of safety-sensitive
industries in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Drug-Free Workplace
concept was adopted and promoted by national, State and local organizations
of employers and business executives. Some unions adopted it as
well and undertook hiring hall drug testing of their members and
provided "Drug-Free worker" identification.
Written policies assure that all employees have the same understanding
of their rights and responsibilities under the program, and that
employers administer the program uniformly among all employees.
For more information, please visit the Workplace
Source: Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration