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Drug-Free Workplace Program

Zero-tolerance drug policies are a cost-effective strategy with many benefits

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Drug Free Workplace Program

What is a drug-free workplace program?

A drug-free workplace program is a policy that businesses can establish to prevent drug abuse among its employees. The components of a drug-free workplace can vary, but successful programs often have these five elements:

  • Written policy
  • Employee education initiative
  • Supervisor/management training
  • Employee assistance program (EAP)
  • Drug tests

New York State’s Code Rule 60, the Workplace Safety Loss Prevention Incentive Program (WSLPIP), provides an incentive for companies in New York that maintain a drug-free workplace.

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What are the benefits of a zero-tolerance drug policy?

The most obvious benefit is reduced drug use among employees. In addition, under the Workplace Safety and Loss Prevention Incentive Program (WSLPIP) in New York, many NY companies are eligible for a savings of 2% off their workers’ comp costs every year.

Creating safety and return-to-work programs can earn businesses an extra 4% each for the first year, and 2% for each additional year. That’s a 6-10% savings on your workers’ comp premium!

Employers with long-standing drug-free policies report the reduced use of medical benefits by employees and their families, and better health among employees. Not only can you save a percentage on workers’ comp, but the premium is very likely to decrease with a drug-free policy.

drug free workplace benefits

Is drug abuse really a problem in the workplace?

Yes – and the statistics speak volumes. Several studies have found that, in the workplace, drug abusers are more likely to:

  • Be less productive
  • Be late or absent
  • File a workers’ comp claim
  • Change jobs frequently
  • Reduce co-workers’ morale
  • Be involved in an accident

Drug abusers involved in accidents also commonly injure others, especially in safety-sensitive industries like transportation and construction.

Almost 3/4 of adult illicut drug users and heavy drinkers are employed.

What qualifies employers for a drug-free workers’ comp credit?

In New York, employers seeking to take advantage of this premium credit must:

  • Pay annual workers’ comp of at least $5,000
  • Have had an experience rating (MOD) of under 1.3 last year
  • Have a safety incentive program
  • Have a drug and alcohol prevention program (that meets several specific criteria)

How can I set up a drug-free policy?

To implement a successful drug-free workplace program, it is recommended that businesses include each of the five elements: a policy, education, training, an employee assistance program and drug tests. Creating awareness of the program through employee handbooks, newsletters, new hire orientations, health fairs and bulletins, among other means, can be integral to a program’s success.

Are there any laws associated with drug-free policies?

Yes, the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires Federal grantees and recipients of Federal contracts (of $100,000 or more) to have a drug-free workplace program in order to receive grants from or contract with Federal agencies. For companies that are not Federal grantees, setting up a drug-free workplace still has benefits.

Additionally, the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Programs outline the requirements for a drug-free workplace.

In New York, Industrial Code Rule 60 dictates the drug-free requirements for workers’ comp premium credits. Other states have similar programs.

What is Industrial Code Rule 60?

New York’s Workplace Safety and Loss Prevention Incentive Program, also known as Industrial Code Rule 60, is a workers’ comp reform that rewards New York employers that have drug-free workplaces with a workers’ comp premium credit.

Establishing a drug-free workplace under New York’s Industrial Code Rule 60 can earn businesses a 6-10% overall savings on their workers’ comp costs. Companies can receive workers’ comp premium credits for having any of the following three programs:

  • A safety program
  • A return-to-work program
  • A drug and alcohol prevention program

Can an employer save money with a drug-free policy?

Yes. Aside from the statistical likelihood of hiring more productive and reliable employees, and the decreased chance of workers’ comp claims, employers in New York are entitled to an annual 2% workers’ comp premium credit just for having a drug-free workplace.

Instituting safety and return-to-work programs as part of your drug-free policy can earn your company another 4% each for the first year, and 2% each annually afterwards. This adds up to an initial 10% savings on workers’ comp premiums, and 6% every year afterwards.

After 3 years, employers must submit a renewal application and a report to the State Department of Labor 90 days before the current period ends.

NY Rule Code 59 and 60 worker's compensation reductions

*This chart only applies to insured NY-based employers.

This means if your business pays $60,000 in workers’ comp premiums annually, you could receive a credit of $6,000 the first year and $3,600 every following year. Combine these savings with drug-free employees and less workers’ comp claims and you’re likely to save even more.

How can Mobile Health help set up a drug-free workplace?

Mobile Health can work with your business to perform a needs assessment and set up a drug-free policy. We also handle all the drug testing needs that your program will require through our 6 collection sites in each NYC borough and Long Island.

Mobile Health is capable of administering blood, hair and SAMHSA & DOT-certified urine drug tests that detect anywhere from 5 to 13 commonly-abused drugs. All results are then available to view online through our client portal. Furthermore, a Medical Review Officer verifies the validity of positive results before reporting an accurate final result.

We can also provide materials for educating employees and training supervisors on the nature and scope of your drug-free workplace program and make you fully eligible for the New York workers’ comp credit under Industrial Code Rule 60.

Drug Free Workplace: Needs assessment, written policy, supervisor training, employee education, drug testing, and an employee assistance program

Does Mobile Health have a Medical Review Officer (MRO)?

Yes. Mobile Health’s Medical Review Officer (MRO) is a medical doctor (MD) that will determine if there is a legitimate medical reason for a positive drug test result. Employees will have the chance to provide evidence of any prescribed drugs that could have caused the test to come out positive.

Mobile Health’s MRO protects the rights of employees by offering a fair opportunity to explain the results of a drug test. Our MRO also protects the rights of employers, in the case of litigation due to a positive drug test.

A drug-free policy may include these testing methods

There are six main occasions upon which an employer might give a drug test. These are:

  • Pre-employment: This reduces the chances of hiring a drug user and enforces the drug-free policy.
  • Annual: This type of test is often required by the New York State Department of Health and the Department of Transportation, but can also be a good yearly reminder of your strict drug-free policy.
  • At random: Random drug tests send the message that drug use is not only discouraged, but never permitted.
  • Reasonable suspicion: If an employee has a history of unsafe behavior or does not appear fit for duty, this type of test can be an effective tool for identifying the issue.
  • Post-accident: This is a test given in response to an accident or incident involving unsafe behavior.
  • Return-to-duty: This is a test given after an employee has completed a treatment program for drug abuse.

What actions may be taken in the event of a failed drug test?

Depending on the work environment and individual circumstances, actions to take may include:

  • Referral to an Employee Assistance Program for assistance concerning drug use
  • Referral to more extensive treatment options
  • Disciplinary action: Suspension, dismissal or firing. These are more extreme consequences.

Prevention, intervention and treatment are more cost-effective than terminating employees that test positive.