Make Your Drug Free Workplace Program an Asset Not a Liability

As owner of OshaSure, a Birmingham-based safety and risk management firm, I evaluate workplace safety and risk for small to mid-sized companies. Falling into my scope of expertise is the company Drug Free Workplace Program (DFWP). It is troubling to report that a large number of my evaluations of this highly beneficial program reveal serious risk to the client.

 

Make no mistake about it; there is not another program that reduces the exposure to the employer more than does a well-crafted “DFWP”. The discount programs help offset the costs of the program. A well organized, legal “DFWP” will often equal in cost the amount of the discount or more. .[WCx]

 

Benefits of a Drug Free Workplace Program

The main benefit of the “DFWP” is the Workers Compensation carrier can deny a claim based on a positive test for drugs. Since initial development of the “DFWP” in the states, case law and precedent have determined that the “positive” drug test results must be causal to the injury. This means, in simple terms, that if the employee is standing somewhere on the job and a brick falls on the employee’s head, for example, the claim would not be paid even with a “positive” drug test result. This is due to the fact that the falling brick has nothing to do with the employee’s intoxication. This is fair and leaves most accidents well within the realm of denial of the claim.

 

 

Getting to the heart, here, my evaluations suggest that many firms are not placing a high enough emphasis on individual compliance with this program. I find glaring omissions such as little or no formal written policy or a lack of proper notification to existing employees and “new hires” about required testing. Further, not educating how prescription or “OTC” drugs can alter a test or alerting employees how and when to inform the employer that they are taking a prescription drug.

 

 

Customize the Program

Prescription drugs that can affect one’s ability to perform must be reported. Employers have the duty to place the employee in non safety sensitive positions, if applicable, for the course of the prescription.

 

 

This is just one of many reasons that all programs must be customized to the client.

 

 

The details of your program must be determined from the start to include situations unique to your company. The company policy should be developed by a knowledgeable HR employee or consultant and then reviewed by a labor attorney, familiar with your operations, and the DFWP laws and administrative codes in your state.

 

Training

Finally, training requirements vary from state to state; however, training in DFWP is required by all states; at minimum, employees are required to have initial and periodic training. Supervisors must have training in recognizing the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse and must be familiar with all related company policy and procedures. (I suggest annually for both)

 

 

 

Do Not Do it Yourself

Next, another troublesome finding with testing, I have found many companies selling “do it yourself testing” including hair, urine or saliva testing. The gold standard and all state programs rely on urine testing through a certified laboratory. A trained collector, along with a facility restroom dedicated and set up solely for drug testing is required. No matter the purported legality, the difference in cost of these types of “self tests” and a certified laboratory along with a medical review officer (MRO) is negligible considering what is at stake.

 

 

Remember, the discount is given not as a profit item but to help pay for the program and testing. There is no advantage in saving a small amount of money against the risk of losing a case due to improper testing. (This topic could well be its own article but for the purpose of this writing I assure you that using a nationally recognized laboratory along with a competent MRO is a “no brainer” to any risk assessment.)

 

 

Review your Program

Regular review of your DFWP is highly recommended. Make no mistake about it; this is a very punitive program that has the ability to take a huge amount of coverage from an employee.  As such, the stakes are high, the company will be viewed in litigation as the “big bad wolf” after “the little guy employee”. However, the law is clear and case law backs this up. If all ducks are in a row, the company can expect protection intended by the law.  .

 

 

It is not difficult or excessively costly to establish and maintain a program that is properly developed and funded from the start or at the point of re-establishing one after a deficiency is found.  NOTE:

Remember to receive your discount, you must verify annually that the program is complete. This consultant asserts that it is likely for the carrier to ask for a refund of discounts, if your program is not complete.[WCx]

 

 

Most challenges will be clear and your firm will be protected from excessive loss due to an employee’s violation of your company drug policy.

 

 

In closing, I suggest if you have not recently or regularly reviewed your DFWP, now rather than later is the time to do so.  Please see our workers comp resource center at LowerWC.com for more on state by state Drug Testing 

Brian Hill is owner of OshaSure in Birmingham Alabama and has over 20 years as a workplace safety and risk consultant. Brian was previously a pilot for a major US airline and member of the company’s interdepartmental safety committee. He found his new career in safety after the closing of the airline in 1991. Brian has found the same passion he had for flying in assisting companies with safety, heath and risk issues. For more information click on www.oshasure.com  205-296-0601  oshasurebh@aol.com

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

Toronto Public Transit Workers Subject to Random Drug and Alcohol Tests

Public transit workers in Toronto will in the near future be subject to random drug and alcohol testing as the city's transit service was given permission to start testing employees in safety-sensitive positions, according to a report from the Canadian OH&S News.
 
 
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) was pushing for random testing to be added to the Fitness for Duty policy because the current policy, which came into effect in 2010, has been ineffective at deterring workplace intoxication, says Brad Ross, director of public communications for the TTC. (WCxKit)
 
 
The current policy allows for workers in safety-sensitive positions – operators, maintenance staff, supervisors and executives – to be tested for alcohol and marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and PCP, using breathalyzers and saliva swabs, when there is a reasonable cause or testing post-incident, post-violation, post-treatment and pre-employment.
 
 
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents the majority of TTC workers, is already challenging the present policy, and random testing will be added to the grievance, commented Ian Fellows, the union's lawyer in the grievance litigation.
 
 
"It's an invasion of our members' privacy. It treats everybody as if they've done something wrong and it requires them to submit to an invasive procedure," says Fellows. "They've got to offer up a sample of their bodily fluid and their DNA. That's contrary to our agreement and we say the [Ontario] Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights."
 
 
While specifics regarding how the program would run have not yet been worked out, Ross notes the TTC would work with a third party to develop a testing protocol and it would be at least a few months before a system would be ready to implement.
 
 
"We need to figure out what percentage of employees we'd need to test on an annual basis, but in theory the way it works is you show up for work and the system tells us it's your turn for random testing," he says.
 
 
The saliva swabs, as opposed to the traditional urinalysis when testing for drugs, only show whether a person was impaired when the swab was taken based on a pass/fail threshold, not if they had used drugs in the past. The swabs would be tested by an outside lab, Ross says. "We're interested in ensuring that when you report for work, you're fit for duty, not what you did two days ago or two weeks ago, for that matter."
 
 
This is not the first time the TTC has tried to introduce random drug and alcohol testing. When it first brought the Fitness for Duty policy to its board of directors in September of 2008, random testing was in the policy, but the board refused to give it the green light. However, the board has changed since the policy was first introduced.
 
 
Ross reports that TTC staff felt the random testing policy was needed and would revisit the proposal at a later date. Ross also dismissed a recent incident, where a TTC bus driver was found with marijuana in his possession after a fatal accident, as the reason for trying to reintroduce random testing.
 
 
"There have been a number of public incidents over the last couple of years that have been cause for great concern, and there have been incidents within the organization that have not been public but are a concern as well," he says.
 
 
The number of incidents involving drugs and alcohol has not decreased since the policy was introduced, Ross added.
 
 
Though the TTC has data comparing the number of incidents from 2006 to 2008 and 2008 to present, they are part of the grievance litigation and are not being released to the public. Hearings began in 2011 and are scheduled throughout 2012.
 
 
Random testing brings the TTC, with its 1.6-million riders a day, more in line with public transit services in the United States, where random testing of all workers in the transportation sector is the law. "We are the third largest transit agency in North America after New York and Mexico City, and we feel that this element of the policy is necessary," Ross noted. (WCxKit)
 
 

Windsor's public transit service is the only one in Canada that has implemented random testing, but only for employees who drive routes that cross into Michigan.


Author Robert Elliott
, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact

Australian Bullying, Drug and Alcohol Harm Prevention Begins in January

 
Australian federal work health and safety regulator Comcare has highlighted several occupational health and safety issues, including bullying and drug and alcohol harm at work, in its Work Health and Safety Plan for the current financial year.
 
 
According to a report from Comcare, the plan commits to improving work health and safety across federal employers by focusing on four key priority areas: worker health, preventing harm, stronger enforcement, and a smooth transition to national work health and safety laws.(WCxKit)
 
 
Comcare’s Work Health and Safety General Manager, Neil Quarmby, said this is a major change in the way Comcare delivers its services.
 
 
“Our new regulation model highlights the importance of preventing workplace injuries. This year we’ll deliver strong enforcement outcomes, but also commit to stopping workers getting harmed in the first place,” Quarmby said.
 
 
This includes an initiative to target federal employers with poor workplace cultures with relation to drug and alcohol harm.
 
 
Also on the agenda is a workplace bullying campaign which will address the recent growth in mental stress claims.
 
 
“We’re targeting workplaces where bullying is just ‘how things work,’ and we’ll be working with employers where alcohol harm is a known risk in the workplace. We’re sending the message that it is not OK — that it’s unacceptable,” Quarmby says.
 
 
Harmonized work health and safety laws due to start on Jan. 1, 2012, are also a major priority. Comcare will re-train its inspectors to exercise new powers under the laws, such as providing assistance to victims and families involved in workplace harm.(WCxKit)
 
 
Quarmby adds harmonization will reduce red tape on a national level and help regulators such as Comcare improve the way it deals with workplace incidents.

 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.


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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

6 Things Adjusters Wish Their Clients Knew

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When adjusters daydream, their non-work daydreams are like every one else – romance and money. But when they are about work, many dreams are about how much easier life would be if their clients – the employers – knew what they know. If you could see inside the adjuster’s head, here are some of the things the adjusters wish their clients knew:

 

5 Things Adjusters Wish Their Clients Knew:

 

  1. You Hire Too Many Druggies

Workers compensation adjusters know that from 38 to 50 percent of all workers compensation injuries are related to substance abuse, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor. The adjuster’s biggest wish is that their clients had a drug-free workplace program. When employers have a published drug-free workplace program that includes pre-employment drug screens, random drug testing and mandatory drug testing of all employees involved in a work-place accident, the number of work-related injuries drops sharply. Hence, the adjuster daydreams about every employer having a drug-free work place and because of that, having a lot less workers comp claims to work on. (WCxKit)

 

 

  1. Safety saves you Money

One of the first things the work comp adjuster does when a new work comp claim is assigned to him or her is to read the Employer’s First Report of Injury (FROI). The FROI has a section for the employer to describe what happened. When the adjuster reads, “Employee hurt back lifting ________ (fill in the blank),” or, “Employee tripped over ________ (fill in the blank),” or, “Employee was struck by __________ (fill in the blank),” the adjuster recognizes what the employer does not see – the employer’s safety program needs improvement. Lifting, tripping, and being struck by something are all types of accidents that can usually be avoided with an enforced safety program in place. The adjuster wishes the employer knew how many fewer accidents there would be (and how much lower the work comp premium would be) if the employer had an enforced safety program.

 

 

  1. Treat Every Little Injury

Too often, the adjuster gets to handle the mess the employer made when they decided not to report a “minor” injury. The employee may have said he could “tough it out” when he strained his back, twisted his knee, or dropped 200 pounds on his foot. The untreated injury often gets worse before it gets better. Just like the old proverb “a stitch in time saves nine,” timely medical treatment for a small injury can prevent an employee from aggravating the injury and making it more serious. The adjuster wishes employers would send every injured employee immediately to the doctor (and while the employee is being treated, get the drug test done as there is often an alternative motive for “toughing it out”).

 

 

  1. Keep in Touch with the Employee

The smart work comp adjuster knows the employee is another human being, and, just like almost every person, the employee wants to know that someone, anyone, cares about the injury that has occurred. The big burly roughneck is not going to think,” My employer is compassionate,” if he never hears from the employer after an accident. What he will think is, “They don’t give a damn (or insert much stronger curse word) about me,” and off he goes to get a lawyer who will listen to him and who will “make sure the employer pays for this.” The adjuster daydreams and wishes that the employer would stay in touch with the employee after an accident, sharply reducing the number of lawyers involved in their claims.

 

 

  1. Keep in Touch with the Adjuster

The adjuster needs to know what the employer knows about the work comp claim. If the employer hears scuttlebutt that the employee’s accident happened at home, or that the employee could return to work but does not want to, or any other information about the claim, the information should be shared with the adjuster. The adjuster’s daydream here is the simple wish the employer would keep the adjuster informed of any developments.

 

 

  1. Modified Duty Saves Money

While physical therapy will assist the employee’s recovery from musculoskeletal injuries, often-light duty work will do the same thing, and is a whole lot cheaper for the employer in the end. When the adjuster calls the employer about the employee returning to work on light duty, and has to deal with a supervisor who is only thinking about what is convenient for the supervisor, the adjuster sighs. When the employer refuses to accommodate light duty, the adjuster wishes the employer knew and understood how much sooner the work comp claim would be over if the employer would put the employee back to work on modified duty. (WCxKit)

 

 

Workers comp adjusters do not daydream or wish the employer knew everything about their jobs, but the adjuster will continue to wish the employers understand how the employer’s action or inaction affects the adjuster’s job. If you want the adjuster to feel yours is a wonderful company, heed the ideas expressed above.

 


Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

 

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Ohio Drug Free Safety Program to Lower Workers Compensation Premiums

Ohio is the largest monopolistic state. All employers, who are not self-insured, must purchase their workers compensation coverage from the state. As the State of Ohio is acting as the insurance company for most Ohio employers, it is in the best interest of both the State of Ohio and the employers to have the least number of workers compensation claims possible. To achieve this goal, the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) offers a Drug-Free Safety Program.
 
 
Availability:
The Drug-Free Safety Program (DFSP) provides a premium discount to private employers and governmental employers other than state agencies who implement the BWCs Drug Free Safety Program. (Employers who implement their own drug free program and not the BWCs DFSP do not receive the BWCs premium discount). The DFSP focus is the prevention of the use of alcohol and drugs while on the job. The intent of the DFSP is to incorporate the employers drug abuse prevention program into the safety program, resulting in both a safer work environment and work comp claim reduction. (WCxKit)
 
 
Eligibility:
To be eligible to participate in the DFSP, the employer must:
Be in good standing with the BWC at the time of the application
Be current in the payment of their work comp insurance premiums [however, the BWC defines “current” as not more than 45 days past due in the payment of premiums, assessments, retrospective rating adjustments, and penalties]
Not allowed all lapses in work comp coverage to exceed 40 days combined in the 12 months prior to the initial application, or any subsequent renewal or the DFSP
Continue to meet all requirements for participation in the program
 
 
Levels of Participation:
There are two program levels that the employer can participate in, the Basic level and the Advanced level. The requirements for the Advanced level are more stringent and require greater participation by the employer.   The Basic level offers a premium discount of 4%, while the Advanced level offers a premium discount of 7%.   [Group experience rated employers receive a 3% discount and only if they are in the Advanced level of participation].
 
 
Requirements:
The DFSP requirements for both the Basic level and the Advanced level include;
 
1.      Accident analysis training within 30 days of the start of the program year or within 60 days for employees becoming a new supervisor
2.      Online accident reporting of all work comp claims
3.      Workplace safety review within 30 days of the start of the program year
4.      An annual report
5.      Safety Action Plan within 60 days of the start of the program year (optional for the Basic level)
6.      Written drug-free program policy outlining the details of the drug-free program
7.      Employee education – one hour of initial training when hired and one-hour refresher each year
8.      Supervisor training – two hours of initial training and one-hour refresher each year
9.      Drug & alcohol testing required of 100% of all pre-employment/new hires, reasonable suspicion testing, post-accident testing, return to duty testing, and follow up testing. The Advanced level also requires 15 percent random drug testing
10.An employee assistance program
 
 
Disallowance of Work Comp Claims:
Ohio law allows for the denial of workers compensation to employees who were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of their injury. The employee has the burden of proving the proximate cause of their injury was not the use of alcohol or drugs in order to have their claim consider. 
Examples of how this works:
 
1.      The employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and falls off scaffolding resulting in injuries. The work comp claim is denied.
 
2.      The employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and the scaffolding breaks resulting in injuries, the work comp claim would be accepted (assuming the scaffolding did not break due to improper assembly while the employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol). (WCxKit)
 
 
Application:
For Ohio employers to apply for the premium reduction, the employer must indicate their desire to do so by completing the Application for Drug-Free Safety Program (U-140) [obtain a copy from the BWC website] and submitting it to the BWC. The employer must indicate whether they want to participate in the Basic or Advanced level of the DFSP.   There are two program years. The first program year is from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 which is open to all employers.    The Application for the DFSP must be submitted by last business day of October.   The second program year, which is open to only private employers, is from July 1 to June 30 of the following year. The application for the second program year must be submitted by the last business day of April.
 
 
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Drug Free Workplace Work Comp Premium Reduction in Some States

Some employers do not know they can reduce their workers compensation insurance premiums by having a drug-free workplace program. While the employer will realize that a drug-free workplace will reduce the number of accidents that occur on the job, the employer often misses another cost savings of a drug-free workplace – a reduction in their workers compensation insurance premium.
 
 
In Georgia, if the employer gets their drug-free workplace program certified by the Georgia State Board of Workers Compensation, they receive a seven and one-half percent (7.5%) reduction of their workers compensation premium. If the employer submits a copy of their certificate of a drug-free workplace each year to their workers compensation insurance carrier, they continue to get the 7.5% reduction in their total work comp premium.
 
 
Self-insured employers in Georgia can also get in on the savings. The self-insured employer submits a copy of their drug-free workplace program certificate with their annual payroll report. The self-insured employer can reduce the amount of money they set aside for “premiums” which in turn will reduce the amount of company is annually assessed by the Georgia State Board of Workers Compensation.
 
 
The state statutes in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington State all have provisions for a five percent (5%) discount on workers compensation premiums for having a drug-free workplace. Some of these states require an annual certificate like Georgia, so check with the state department that administers workers compensation in your state.
 
 

Ohio, the largest of the four remaining monopolistic states (states where the state government is the sole provider of workers' compensation insurance), has a state sponsored program “Drug-Free Safety Program”.   The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation has a tier program where employers participating in their Basic level safety program receiving a four percent premium discount and employers participating in their Advanced level safety program receiving a seven percent premium discount.  Group experienced rated employers can receive a three percent premium discount for participating in the Advanced level safety program.

 
 
In Hawaii, employers who provide both a health program and a safety program which includes a drug-free workplace policy also receive a five percent (5%) insurance premium discount. (The difference between Hawaii and the other 5% discount states listed above is you have to have both a safety program and a health program to get the 5% discount).
 
 
The state statute in Idaho does not specify the amount of premium reduction the employer will receive for a drug-free workplace. Their law states that the employer who provides drug and alcohol testing of all prospective employees and current employees shall qualify for a workers compensation premium reduction.
 
 
What if you do not live in the states discussed above? You may still get an insurance premium reduction for having a drug-free workplace.   Some workers compensation insurers offer voluntary premium reductions for having a drug-free workplace program. The requirements and qualifications for a voluntary premium reduction by the insurer vary from insurance company to insurance company.   Ask your broker what premium reduction you might receive from your workers compensation insurer for having a drug-free workplace program. Find out what the requirements of your work comp insurance company are to receive a voluntary premium reduction.
 
Note: While talking to the broker, also ask about any premium reduction for having a certified safety program – you should work to get all the work comp premium discounts you can get.
 
 
The five percent premium reduction (7.5% in Georgia, up to 7% in Ohio) is not the only savings your company will get from having a drug-free workplace program. Other  benefits include:
 
 
1.     A significant reduction in the number of workplace accidents follows the introduction of a drug-free workplace program. The reduction in the number of workplace accidents leads to a reduction in the work comp premium based on your accident history.
2.     Employers who have a drug-free workplace program have less absenteeism.
3.     A drug-free workplace program also leads to an increase in productivity. (WCxKit)
4.     Approximately 40 states allow the insurance company to deny work comp benefits to an employee who test positive for drugs or alcohol following an accident. You need to have a drug-free workplace program in place in order to test them employees following an accident.
 
 
A drug-free workplace program makes financial sense even without consideration for the reduction in workers comp insurance premiums. When you add the reduction in premiums from having the drug-free workplace program to the reduction in premiums from having fewer workplace accidents after the drug-free program is started, the drug-free workplace is the way to go.
 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing.  See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

© 2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
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Know the Basic Types of Drug Testing

Most employers understand the importance of drug testing to prevent both workers compensation accidents and accidents that damage property. When an employee has a work related accident resulting in injury, a drug test should be a part of the immediate medical care. The reasons and the importance of drug testing are easy to understand. The types of drug test and how they are administered is more technical. 
 
 
A drug test involves taking a biological specimen and having it analyzed for the presence or absence of specific drugs or their metabolites (the products of metabolism). The biological specimen can be urine, blood, hair, saliva or even sweat. (WCxKit)
 
 
The most common drug test is the urine drug screen. This typically involves collecting a urine specimen in a cup specifically designed for this purpose. The cup comes with a cap that seals and the cap is taped down with tamper resistant tape. A label with the either the employee's name or a unique number assigned to the employee is used to identify from whom the specimen was obtained. The urine specimen is delivered to the laboratory where it is screened for drugs.
 
 
At the laboratory, the most common drug screen is the one required by the federal government for commercial class drivers licenses. It is referred to as the SAMHSA 5 panel. (SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The five substances tested for are:
 
1.     Cannabinoides (marijuana, hash)
2.     Cocaine (cocaine, crack, benzoylecognine)
3.     Amphetamines (amphetamines, methamphetamines, speed)
4.     Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine)
5.     Phencyclidine (PCP)
 
 
To perform the testing, the specimen is split into half. The first half goes into an analyzer that measures the presence or concentration of a substance in the urine. If the test shows the presence of a drug, the second half of the urine is test using a gas chromatography method (which means they separate the urine into the various substances within it). The test results are then reviewed by a physician for confirmation of the results. If the test results are negative, the employer is advised the drug test was negative. If the test results are positive, the employee is contacted to see if there is any valid reason for the test result to be positive – for instance a prescription drug.
 
 
A drug test that is more accurate than the testing of urine is a blood test. The blood sample is drawn from the employee, labeled and sent to the laboratory where it is placed in centrifuge where the blood plasma and blood cells are separated. The plasma is then tested for the presence of illicit drugs. Blood testing is not commonly used as the collection method is considered more intrusive and it is most expensive method of drug testing. However, it is considered the most accurate drug test.
 
 
In the last decade the use of hair in laboratory test for the detection of illicit drugs has developed into a reliable forensic toxicology method that has been approved by the courts. Once ingested, cannainoids, cocaine, amphetamines and opiates are metabolized by the body. Their breakdown products enter the hair root where they are deposited and remain until the hair grows out and is cut off or the hair falls out. Except for the abuse of alcohol, hair is considered a very reliable indicator of illicit drug use up to 90 days after the drug was ingested.
 
 
As most illicit drug users know the urine test and blood test are accurate for only recent use of the illicit drugs, they will often try to delay their drug testing until their body has had an opportunity to eliminate the drugs. Time is not the only factor that determines whether or not the drug test will reflect recent use of an illicit drug. Factors that impact the drug testing include the type of drug used, the body mass, the metabolic rate, the age of the user, the overall health of the user, the amount and frequency of use, and with urine drug test – the urine pH.
 
 
A urine drug test has a longer detection window of time then a blood test. Urine test are accurate for cannabis for a minimum of 3 days and up to 7 days, but up to 30 days for heavy users or users with high body fat. Urine test are accurate for cocaine for a minimum of 2 days and up to 5 days. Urine test are accurate for amphetamines for a minimum of 1 day and up to 5 days (except for methamphetamine, it is accurate for 3 to 15 days). Urine tests are accurate for codeine for 2 to 3 days, heroin 3 to 4 days and for PCP for 3 to 7 days for a single use, but up to 30 days for chronic users of PCP. (WCxKit)
 
 
According to the Tennessee Department of Labor, thirty-eight to fifty percent of all workers compensation claims are related to substance abuse. How the illicit use of drugs will impact the work comp claim varies tremendously from state to state. In approximately 40 states the employee's workers compensation benefits can be denied or reduced for being under the influence of drugs at the time of accident.  

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing.  See www.LowerWC.com . Contact:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com .

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/
SUBSCRIBE: 
Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

How to Build a Workplace Drug and Substance Abuse Policy

Per the US Department of Labors Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 74.8% of the illicit drug users are either employed full time or part time. As illicit drugs and alcohol can remain in a persons body for hours or even days after they are used, the person with a substance abuse problem can come to work still under the influence of the drugs or alcohol. Per OSHA, between 10% and 20% of the workers who are killed on the job test positive for drugs or alcohol.
 
A workplace substance abuse policy should be a part of every employers risk management program. The prevention of workplace substance abuse will protect the safety of all employees, and reduce the cost of workers compensation. (WCxKit) 
 
An overall approach to drug-free workplace should include five elements. They are:
1.      Employee education
2.      Supervisor training
3.      Drug testing
4.      Employee assistance
5.      A written substance abuse policy
 
A written workplace substance abuse policy should have a stated goal and purpose. The goal and purpose can be stated as “protecting the safety and health of the workplace” with recognition of drugs and alcohol as being a danger to all employees. 
 
The workplace substance abuse policy should clarify what employees are covered by the policy. To prevent the policy from being ignored, it should apply to all employees, including management. Otherwise, it will be seen as having different standards for 'the workers and 'the management'. The policy should clearly state when it is applicable – all hours on the job and when representing the company in anyway. 
 
The prohibited behavior needs to be clearly stated. The workplace substance abuse policy should state that it is a violation of the policy to use, sell, trade, posses, or to offer to sale illicit drugs, alcohol or any other intoxicants in the workplace. The prohibited behavior should also include being under the influence of illicit drugs, alcohol or any other intoxicants while in the workplace.
 
The workplace substance abuse policy must clearly state the employer has the right to search for substance that violate the policy. It should state that by entering the premise of the employer, all parties consent to searches and inspections. The right to search should be stated as applicable at any time and to include clothing, desk, lockers, wallets, purses, briefcases, lunchboxes, vehicles and equipment.
 
For the workplace substance abuse policy to be effective, it must contain a drug testing component. The drug testing portion of the substance abuse policy should outline how the testing will be administered and when the test can be given – pre-employment, random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, periodic, etc. 
 
The drug testing portion of the substance abuse policy should state what the consequences are when an employee test positive for drugs whether it is suspension from work until the employee has completed a stated drug treatment program or termination of employment or other disciplinary action by the employer. For job applicants, the failure to pass the pre-employment drug testing should result in the job offer being withdrawn.  
 
Some employers encourage employees to voluntary seek assistance with their drug or alcohol problem. The workplace substance abuse policy can recognize there is treatment available for the addiction and that rehabilitation is possible. The policy can state the employer encourages the employee or family member with an addiction problem to seek the necessary assistance. 
 
The workplace substance abuse policy should advise that all information received by the employer is considered confidential information and will not be shared with anyone who does not have a legitimate need for the information. It should make the appropriate exceptions for medical care, law enforcement and management needs.
 
The policy needs to define the responsibilities of the both the employees and the employer in maintaining a drug-free workplace. This would include employees not reporting to work with any illicit drugs or alcohol in their system and management's responsibility to maintain a safe work place and protect the employees from any employee under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol. 
 
Communication between the employees and the employer is essential for the workplace substance abuse policy to work. All employees should be provided a copy of the written policy. The policy should be reviewed in orientation with new employees and be incorporated into safety meetings. All employees should receive a copy of the substance abuse policy at least annually. Information on the availability of treatment for alcohol and drug addiction should be made available to everyone. (WCxKit)
 
 As many small businesses will not have the time to carefully write a workplace substance abuse policy, the U.S. Department of Labor provides a free Drug-Free Workplace Policy Builder at www.dol.gov/elaws/asp/drugfree/drugs/screen2.asp . At their website you go through a checklist of features you want in the workplace substance abuse policy for your company. When you finish the checklist, it has a neatly organized, simple but precise workplace substance abuse policy that you can print for use in your company. One of the options when using this interactive program to build your policy is to include a drug testing program; we strongly recommend you do so. By having a workplace substance abuse policy you will have a positive impact on your cost for workers' compensation.

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. www.LowerWC.com
Contact: 
RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/
SUBSCRIBE: 
Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Challenges When Testing for Prescription Drugs in the Workplace

Recently in the “Commercial Appeal” (TN), quoting from a New York Times article about the trickiness of drug testing when workers take prescriptions drugs the article ended with this quote.

“Given the liability for industrial accidents or product defects or workplace injuries involving prescription drug abuse, employers cannot afford not to address this issue.”
employers cannot afford not to address this issue.”

 

Indeed drug testing in the workplace is challenging given the fact so many people take illegal drugs. Employers have every right to discover who these workers are before a serious workplace injury occurs.

However,
the quote seems to be saying if a person is taking a legal prescription drug(s), albeit those possibly causing impairment leading to an accident in the workplace, such legal use qualifies as “prescription drug abuse.” (WCxKit)


It is a fine
line between maintaining a drug-free workplace understood to mean illegal drug usage and firing someone for taking prescription drugs – some even for injuries sustained in the employer’s workplace.

Statistics show
(Quest Diagnostics) of 500,000 drug tests, use of prescription drugs rose 18% between 2005 and 2009. Opiates were found in those workers following an accident at four times the level than when they were first hired.

That being said
, a leap cannot be made from high usage of prescription drugs to abusive usage of prescription drugs. Some people abuse. Others take their medications appropriately and, yes, the drug is found in their system at testing.

The real questions are
: Are workers taking legal prescription drugs showing evidence of behavior as a result of their medication(s) putting them at a higher risk of a workplace injury? Are workers taking prescription medication actually having more injuries? In other words, is there a quid pro quo?

Employers must
continue to test for drugs in the workplace. In addition to the drug-free policy, they must implement a plan for working with those taking prescription drugs and evaluate each individual on the basis of what is found during the test and the behavior of the worker, taking steps to intervene if unsafe behaviors or potential for accidents are found.

The drug-testing
plan needs openness and communication with employees taking RX meds. A policy must be set as to what will be tolerated within the guidelines of the prescription dosages. Employees must also be open and honest about medications they take — opiates or not —  at the time of drug testing. It’s common knowledge diabetics may experience inconsistent affects from both their disease and the medication they take, even when taken correctly. No employer would be allowed to fire a diabetic if deemed at risk for an injury. They would be required to accommodate.

Someone taking
two Vicodin twice a day, morning and evening, would be expected to have a fixed level of the drug in his/her body. If at testing a person is found to have much high amounts, that’s the time for the employer to step in.

Steps an employer
may consider are counseling, re-assigning the person to a safer job, working with employees and their physicians to substitute or alter the dosage during the workday. Check the laws in your state and the regulations of the American with Disabilities Act. (WCxKit)

It’s much wiser
for employers to be on a sure footing before firing workers who “fail” drug tests for taking legitimate medications than to fight a lawsuit. Indeed, if lower worker comp costs are the goal, lawsuits blow cost right up the scale, big time.


For more information visit
http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/drug-testing-state-laws.php#axzz14LwH8dOJ


Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing.
C
ontact:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
 
FREE TOOLS
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
JOIN
WC GROUP:  
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/
SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Drug Free Workplace Is Priority in Difficult Economic Times But Change Is Not Easy

2009 Drug Free Work Week 10/19-10/25, HI-LITES These are the final myths and tips of our week-long presentation for a drug-free workplace.  Hopefully you received some good ideas for implementation.  Be sure to visit our website for a list of U.S. laws, state-by-state, listed below. Myth:    Most companies manage change well, and incremental, slower transitions will improve the chances for success. Reality:  No, and no!  *McKinsey’s Classic Change Study (2008) found change is successfully managed only 33% of the time and “bigger and timely” transitions predict success. Employer Tip:  When initiating or refining DFW programs, consult with both workplace addiction and change-management experts. *[ Creating Organizational Transformations: McKinsey Global Survey Results – August 2008 Myth:    In this economy, workplace addiction should become a less important priority, particularly for retrenched companies unable to increase market share. Reality:  These unprecedented times underscore the quintessential value of employees and the P&L’s bottom-line. For retrenched companies, addressing DFW improves morale/productivity and reduces major expenses (saves jobs). For growing businesses, improving DFW adds to company valuation, reduces risk and improves employee engagement (company of choice).  (workersxzcompxzkit) Employer Tip:   Learn as much as possible about workplace addiction.  Consult with the many free resources available, including web-sites sponsored by the US Department of Labor (Partners for a Drug Free Workplace) and SAMHSA. Authors: Bill White MSN and Katharine White MSN About the authors: K & B White are leadership entrepreneurs who co-founded DFW-Renaissance Inc. (www.dfw-r.com) and co-developed managerial science innovation DFW-R Lean CultureTM (to create/sustain highly engaged drug free workforces). Both are former hospital C-Suite executives with extensive drug treatment, leadership and behavioral health experience. Look for their upcoming headline article in DATIA Focus on DFW Culture Change and Employee Morale. They can be reached by email at billtwhite@cox.net and phone at 401-615-8775.

To review laws in your state on workplace drug policies and rules for testing employees see http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com//drug-testing-state-laws.php

 

 

 

FREE WC IQ Test: http://www.workerscompkit.com/intro/ WCBooks: http://www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/workers-comp-books-manuals.php TD Calculator: www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

Follow Us On Twitter: www.twitter.com/WorkersCompKit Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workman’s comp issues. ©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

 

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