Drug-Free Work Week Article for Association Publications (LONG)

<ORGANIZATION NAME> Members Encouraged to Participate in Drug-Free Work Week

<DATES> is National Drug-Free Work Week, and all members of <ORGANIZATION NAME> are encouraged to participate. The purpose of Drug-Free Work Week is to highlight that being drug free is key to workplace safety and health and to encourage workers with alcohol and drug problems to seek help.

Drug-Free Work Week is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor in coordination with members of its Drug-Free Workplace Alliance. This cooperative program, which represents both employer/contractor associations and labor unions, aims to improve safety and health through drug-free workplace programs. It focuses on the construction industry because research indicates that it has higher than average rates of worker alcohol and drug abuse-a serious concern given that it also is among the industries with the highest rates of workplace accidents and injuries. But because drug-free workplace programs benefit all workplaces, employers and employees in all industries, not just construction, are encouraged to take part in Drug-Free Work Week.

Below are specific suggestions for how <ORGANIZATION NAME> members can support Drug-Free Work Week. Ideas range from small to comprehensive, but all help promote safer, healthier workplaces and represent wise business practices that can be implemented at any time of the year.

  • Implement a Drug-Free Workplace Program -Drug-Free Work Week is the perfect time to launch a Drug-Free Workplace Program if your company does not already have one. Such programs are natural complements to other initiatives that help protect worker safety and health. This U.S. Department of Labor Web site offers detailed guidance on how to develop a program, starting with the first step: a written policy.
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  • Promote your Drug-Free Workplace Program - If your company already has a Program, Drug-Free Work Week is a logical time to remind employees about its important role in keeping them safe. One way to do this is to distribute a copy of your drug-free workplace policy to all employees, along with a positive message about valuing their health and safety.
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  • Train supervisors - As part of Drug-Free Work Week, companies could provide training to supervisors to ensure they understand the company's policy on alcohol and drug use; ways to deal with workers who have performance problems that may be related to alcohol and drug use; and how to refer employees to available assistance. Ready-to-use training materials are available on the Working Partners Web site.
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  • Educate workers - To achieve a drug-free workplace, it is critical that a company educate its workers about the nature of alcohol and drug use and its negative impact on workplace safety and productivity. Drug-Free Work Week is a natural time to step up such efforts through training sessions or brown-bag lunches. A guest speaker could be brought in to deliver a workshop or you may use the training materials available on the Working Partners Web site to develop and deliver your own in-house training session.
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  • Remind employees about the availability of assistance - If your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Drug-Free Work Week is a great time to remind them about it. EAPs offer free, confidential services to help employees resolve personal and workplace problems, including alcohol and drug abuse. They may also offer educational programs, confidential substance abuse screenings and help employees locate local treatment resources.
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  • Offer health screening - Companies can use Drug-Free Work Week to encourage employees to look at their own use of alcohol and drugs and privately determine if they need help to change their behavior. For example, they can inform employees about the confidential, self-administered online screening tool AlcoholScreening.org and, if possible, provide access to the Internet in a private location in case they want to use it. Confidential screenings by qualified professionals could also be offered by the EAP, health unit and/or occupational nurse.
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  • Compile a list of local resources - Whether or not your company has an EAP or health unit, help for alcohol and drug abuse is likely available through a nearby hospital, public health department or substance abuse treatment center. Draft a list of local resources and post or distribute it, along with a message such as "It's important to work drug free, but if you can't, help is available." To locate resources in your community, visit www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or phone 1-800-662-HELP. Also, self-help programs such as the 12-step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon are free and available nationwide. A local phone book may provide contact information.
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  • Review your health insurance policy - Coverage for substance abuse treatment makes it more likely that employees struggling with alcohol and drug problems will get the help they need. Review your health insurance policy to see if substance abuse treatment is covered, and if it is not, consider discussing the prospect of adding coverage with the person who handles your company's health benefits.
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  • Allow employees time to volunteer in community drug prevention efforts -Drug-Free Work Week offers a chance to show commitment to prevention both inside and outside the workplace. One way to do this is to offer employees time off to volunteer to assist with efforts to prevent substance abuse in the larger community or organize a team of volunteers to support a local prevention initiative. Such efforts often are coordinated by schools, faith-based organizations and community anti-drug coalitions. For more information, contact Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America at www.cadca.org.
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  • Create a Drug-Free Workplace Display - Use Drug-Free Work Week to freshen up bulletin boards in break areas or other locations that employees frequent by posting positive messages about the importance of being drug-free to their safety and that of their coworkers. The Working Partners Web site has posters available to help you get started. Other materials could include a copy of the company's drug-free workplace policy, a list of local and national helplines, and EAP contact information, if applicable.
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  • Feature Drug-Free Work Week in the employee newsletter or Intranet -Drug-Free Work Week offers timely and fresh content for an employee newsletter or internal Web site. Articles could be on a range of topics, including general information about substance abuse and its impact in the workplace environment; sources of help for workers with substance abuse problems; and actions workers can take if they think a colleague may have a substance abuse problem. An easy way to do this is to use one or more "drop-in" articles available on the Working Partners Web site.
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  • Distribute a payroll message listing helplines or a reminder about Drug-Free Work Week for employees - Paychecks are one thing that every employee pays attention to! Provide additional value during Drug-Free Work Week by including a leaflet or message listing sources of help for those with substance abuse problems or a simple reminder that it is Drug-Free Work Week and a good time to re-commit to working drug-free. An easy way to do this is to print and reproduce a ready-to-use payroll message available on the Working Partners Web site.
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  • Hold a social event celebrating safety and health - A social event with plenty of food, fun and non-alcoholic drinks can help reinforce the importance of being drug free to working safely and remind workers that alcohol is not necessary to unwind and relax. The theme for such an event could be one of general health and wellness, with door prizes such as gift certificates for local health clubs or recreational activities.