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Substance abuse has detrimental effects to both the employer and the employee. Drugs affect the profitability of a company as a result of lowering the productivity of employees, theft and loss of property by employees, accidents on the job, cases of absenteeism and medical claims which are made by employees due to job related accidents. On the part of the employee, drugs affect the health, safety and productivity of the employee. According to the National Household Drug Survey, it is estimated that two thirds of drug abusers are employees.

Of these, three-quarters are full time employers. These are alarming statistics and show why drug-free workplace programs are necessary. As a result of this, many state agencies and private companies are required to put in place drug-free workplace programmes. An example of a company with a drug-free workplace program is The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC). This is a company that serves employers and employees in the State of Ohio by ensuring that all construction companies put in place drug-free workplace programs (DFWP).

Thus the company acts as a law enforcement agency. The BWC has put in place conditions that must be fulfilled by the employers and the employees before they can be allowed to work on state construction jobs. These include; • The employers must have a clear compensation policy. This is to cater for employee compensation. • To be able to operate, a company must fulfill the requirement of a DFWP. • Submission of a yearly report to the BWC on the progress of the program.

These policies were put in place so as to ensure that all construction companies comply with the DFWP. This is done in order to enhance employees’ safety at the workplace and reduce the chances of accidents caused by substance use (http://www. ohiobwc. com/employer/services/statecontract/statecontractdescriptions. asp ) The main intent of these programs is to provide a drug-free environment for other employees and a safe service to the public.

The DFWP is meant to enable employers to prevent, detect and take corrective action related to substance use that affects workplace safety. The components of a DFWP include; education and training of supervisors on a yearly basis, testing for drugs and alcohol and offering assistance to the employees in case of drug related problems. a) Education and training of employees and supervisors All employees intending to work on state construction sites must undergo an hour of drug-free workplace education. Supervisors are also required to undertake skill-building training.

Employee education is done so as to make them (employees) aware of the dangers of working under the influence of drugs. Supervisor education is done so as to enhance their (supervisors) ability in handling drug related problems. b) Testing for drugs and alcohol This is the second component of the program and involves testing the employees for drugs and or alcohol. There are several conditions that require employees to be tested. Most employers subject their employees to drug and alcohol testing before hiring them or during probationary period.

These tests can also be undertaken on strong suspicion of alcohol or drug use e. g. following an accident or when bizarre behavior is noted. Company laws also require that testing be done as part of routine physicals, during random testing or when monitoring employees under rehabilitation. The BWC has clearly defined policies in so far as DFWP is concerned. For instance, the program makes it mandatory for all employers to have a written drug-free policy. This policy prohibits use of alcohol and drugs in state jobs.

It also has repercussions for those against the rules. The policy also contains clear outlines on employee education, supervisor education, pre-employment drug and alcohol testing, random drug testing, post accident and reasonable suspicion testing, offering employee assistance and submitting annual reports. These guidelines are mandatory and all construction employers must be compliant. These policies are important to the employer in that they go a long way in reducing companies’ expenses.

For instance, an effective DFWP increases the productivity of employees, leads to substantial decreases in cases of absenteeism and accidents on the job and reduces theft and loss of property by employees. A reduction in the level of accidents in turn leads to a reduction in medical claims by employees and thus saves the company from incurring additional expenses. BWC supports employee assistance programs whereby employees are assisted to overcome drug related issues like substance abuse.

Karen, Kerry, & Richard, (2000) observe that omission of these items in a DFWP may have ramifications to the employee, supervisor and the employers. To the employees, lack of a clearly defined DFWP may lead to higher cases of substance abuse. When employees report to construction sites with substances in their system, they may be exposed to risks such as accidents. People under the influence are usually not 100% active and this reduces the productivity of the employees. For the supervisors, lack of any of the above steps will lead to them having difficulties in dealing with the employees.

Their capacity to detect and manage substance abuse issues in the workplace will be greatly limited due to omission of one of the steps above e. g. supervisor education. To the employer, omission of any of the steps in the DFWP will lead to a considerable reduction in the company’s profits as a result of increased expenses on the employee and low productivity. Drug free workplace programs are essential in ensuring employee safety at the workplace and thus should be adopted by companies so as to improve productivity and enhance profitability.

This is ensured by reducing the effects of substance use on the employees as discussed earlier in the text. REFERENCES Ford, E. K. , Nolestine, E. K. , & Hill, N. R, (2000). Fundamentals of Employment Law. American Bar Association. ISBN: 1570738068 Drug-free workplaces mandatory for all state construction Contractors. Retrieved April 15, 2008. From http://www. ohiobwc. com/employer/services/statecontract/statecontractdescriptions. asp

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