DOL's Message to Workplaces: Be Drug Free

The U.S. Labor Department is urging employers and workers nationwide to take part in National Drug-Free Work Week 2007 (Oct. 14-20), an event created to highlight the fact that being drug free is key to protecting workers' safety and health. It also encourages workers with alcohol and drug problems to seek help.

Drug-Free Work Week is sponsored by DOL and implemented with members of its Drug-Free Workplace Alliance and other organizations. DOL's Working Partners Web site (www.dol.gov/workingpartners/) offers assistance, including a Drug-Free Workplace Advisor Program Builder. The agency asks employers and workers who conduct activities tied to the week, however small, to tell DOL about them. It will develop a list of ideas for others to browse when planning for future Drug-Free Work Weeks (after removing references to the names of people or companies).

The agency urges employers to remind employees about the availability of EAP or Member Assistance Program services if available. "Drug-Free Work Week presents a perfect opportunity to remind them of its availability," DOL notes. Workers also should be told about community treatment resources available to them and loved ones, such as hospital, health department, or substance abuse treatment center services and 12-step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon. Health screening is another good idea for the week, says DOL, which wants employers to encourage employees to assess their own use of alcohol and drugs and privately determine whether they need help to change their behavior. Employees can make use of a confidential, self-administered online screening tool at www.alcoholscreening.org; the agency recommends that employers ensure all employees have access to the Internet in a private location in case they want to use it. Availability of confidential substance abuse screenings could be publicized and offered by the EAP health unit and/or occupational nurse.

National Drug-Free Work Week complements the Drug-Free Communities program, which now supports more than 700 drug-free coalitions nationwide. Community involvement is crucial to reducing drug use overall and especially youth drug use, says John Walters, director of the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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