Pubdate: Sun, 09 Mar 2008
Source: Alpena News, The (MI)
Copyright: 2008 The Alpena News
Author: Sean Harkins
Bookmark: (Drug Test)


Although the stereotypical drug users portrayed in movies and
television shows simply sit around during the day, the reality is
quite different - most of them are at work.

According to the Department of Labor, nearly 75 percent of all illicit
drug users were employed in 2006.

That is more than just a number, Partners in Prevention Executive
Director Carlene Przykucki said, it is a safety issue.

"Safety is critical and we know that alcohol and other drugs affect an
individual's ability to perform well, to have sound judgment - so it
makes sense then from a safety standpoint that you want a drug-free
work force," Przykucki said.

To achieve that, many employers do some form of drug

Testing employees for drugs is not a new concept, but it is becoming
more common.

"Its almost standard anymore, employers almost always require a drug
screen," Tom Frantz, lab director at Alpena Regional Medical Center,

Frantz said the lab has been contacted by around 20 employers wishing
to do drug screenings. The lab actually only collects samples and
sends them off-site to be analyzed.

Some employers, such as the Michigan Department of Transportation,
require employees to take a drug test after any incident at work,
Frantz said.

Along with a pre-employment screening, Lafarge also follows that
policy, Lafarge Public Affairs Manager Craig Ryan said.

"There's a mandatory test after an incident, whether it be personnel
or equipment related," he said, adding there would have to be
reasonable suspicion drug use could have contributed to the accident
before testing.

Randy Shupert, owner of ServiceMaster in Alpena, said they do
screenings to ensure customers security.

"Anybody that we send into our customers homes or businesses are
serious about their employment," Shupert said.

Like Lafarge, ServiceMaster does a pre-employment screening and
another screening during employment if there is a reason for concern,
Shupert said.

Przykucki said there is more to having a drug-free workplace than drug
tests, and drug tests aren't even necessary for a business to be a
drug-free workplace.

She said businesses should have a written policy on drugs and alcohol,
and train supervisors on how to deal with and spot problems. Employees
should also be educated on drug and alcohol related issues.

Optional components of the policy could be to include an employee
assistance program and drug testing, Przykucki said.

"We would never want to see workplace drug testing in a vacuum,
without being part of that broader range of focus," she said.

Another downfall of drug testing is poor planning, she said. Employers
may not have a comprehensive plan, or not test for everything -
including alcohol.

Ryan said Lafarge offers its employees Lafarge Life Balance, a free
and confidential on-site service that allows them to receive
counseling to deal with addiction.

He also said if an employee did test positive, something that hasn't
happened to his knowledge, they wouldn't necessarily lose their job.

"Its not necessarily a positive test and you're done, we don't
knee-jerk react," he said. "First and foremost our goal would be to
help out our employee."

Shupert said he has occasionally circulated handouts to employees on
the effects of drug use in the workplace, and he sees the drug-free
workplace policy as a positive - not something used to target employees.

He said it is his goal to help develop people, along with offering a
service, and the policy may help meet that end.

Pryzkucki said it is important to view drug-free workplace policies as
something that benefits the entire community.

"It's a positive thing, not a 'gotcha!' thing," she said.
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MAP posted-by: Derek