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Dealing with Substance Abuse in the Workplace

The abuse of alcohol and other narcotics is a serious problem that managers and human resources (HR) officials need to strive to prevent in their workplaces. This axiom for all workplaces becomes especially significant when workers are involved in the manipulation of heavy machinery, construction equipment, and other mechanical operations.

Since October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, it’s beneficial for managers and HR officials to spend time going over the benefits of keeping workers sober in the workplace. Keeping workers safe on the job is every responsible manager’s goal. However, there are instances when an individual needs an intervention from their employer.

Staying clean on the job

Avoiding accidents on the job site is the main goal of preventing substance abuse in the workplace. Any employee that drinks on the job is subject to having moments where their composure impacts their quality of work. However, those workers that operate heavy machinery to do their jobs require extra attention to minimize the threat of physical harm to themselves and other people.

Construction workers operating heavy machines cannot efficiently function to perform tasks when they are inebriated, and their inaccuracies will pose a threat of physical harm to any individual in the immediate area. In addition to the immediate threats of operating a heavy machine while inebriated, a worker who is abusing a substance could make a fatal error in the integral construction of a building or other structure.

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

Having an entire month dedicated to preventing substance abuse in the workplace is part of the safety training that every responsible management team should present to workers. Workers at construction sites, factory buildings, and other places that implement the use of heavy machinery should be reminded of the dangers of drinking on the job.

HR officials should work with managers to put together a presentation of substance abuse policies, and it’s important to plan for a procedure to address any issues of substance abuse that are discovered in their company.

At the beginning of their employment, workers should be made aware of the zero tolerance policy for substance abuse in the workplace. This policy must also apply to independent contractors. Since there are many contractors and workers on a typical job site, it’s important to get everyone together to talk about National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

Organizing a presentation

Presenting information to each group of workers is one effective way to lower the occurrences of substance abuse in the workplace. HR officials should work with managers to come up with a guideline of the company’s policy toward substance abuse. This information should include definitions to relevant terminology, and materials should cover what types of substances are to be avoided.

It’s important to make this information available to everyone on the crew, so it should be posted in a public space where everyone has access to the materials. It should also be given out to each individual in a printed form because some people might not take a look at an email with this information. Printing information out to hand to every individual will show your crew that this issue is being considered serious.

Intervention

It’s up to the company to decide upon what types of procedures should occur when an individual is suspected of substance abuse. In some cases, state laws will mandate that an employee must take a drug test in order to operate heavy machinery. In addition to any licenses that workers must obtain to operate machinery on construction sites and in factories, workers must remain sober to perform their jobs safely and effectively.

To make sure that workers aren’t using narcotics, many employers require drug testing. However, drug testing isn’t used to detect alcohol in an individual’s system. It’s important for managers to look out for signs of substance abuse among their workers.

When an employee smells of alcohol, this is an indication of substance abuse in the workplace. The manager must talk to the worker about their habits, and HR officials should present the zero tolerance policy to the individual. If the problem persists, the worker will need to be terminated in order to avoid an accident.

Don’t forget about these substances

Reminding workers of the dangers of substance abuse includes bringing up some common substances that the workers might not realize are prohibited. Workers should not be permitted to operate heavy machinery when they are taking cold medicine that causes a drowsy effect.

An honest worker might be sick and trying to recover, so it’s important to make sure that everyone on the job knows that prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines may contain ingredients that will cause an individual to become a hazard to everyone on the job.

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