Basic Elements of a Drug-Free Workplace Policy

Basic Elements of a Drug-Free Workplace Policy

When considering what to include in a drug-free workplace policy, there are a few components.

In 2021, drug overdose deaths reached a new high. According to the CDC, as of December 2021, over 103,000 people died of a drug overdose. The CDC said when the investigation is complete, it expects the total number of people to be around 107,600.

According to the CDC, 70 percent of people who have a substance use disorder are employed. When considering what to put in a drug-free workplace policy, there are a few basic elements.

The first component the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests is a written policy. This policy should include the following:

  • “The rationale for the policy, such as organizational goals and compliance with laws or regulations
  • Expectations for compliance, including who, what, when, and where
  • Assistance options to support employees in following the policy
  • Consequences for violating the policy”

The second suggested component is employee education. It’s important for employees to know and have training on the new program as well as the risks associated with substance abuse.

The third takes education to the next step with supervisor training. Supervisors should be aware and trained in legal areas, documentation, service referral and acclimation to the workplace post-service.

The fourth component is an employee assistance program (EAP). EAPs are designed to help employees with personal and work related-problems that can affect “mental and emotional well-being,” according to the US Office of Personnel Management. EAPs can be in house, external, blended, management-sponsored, member assistance or peer-based.

The fifth element is drug testing. There are a variety of factors with this type of program, including location of test, type of test tests and drug categories. Tests can be collected on-site or at a laboratory. Samples collected can include hair, saliva, urine or sweat and can test for drugs like cocaine, marijuana, ethanol, methadone and more.

When starting a drug-free workplace program, be sure to research and follow laws and regulations that apply to your specific company and industry.

For more information on drug-free workplace policies, listen to our Workplace, Substance Abuse & Staying Safe episode of OH&S SafetyPod.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

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