When designing a Return to Work strategy during the pandemic, employers should not overlook the emotional side effects of COVID-19. Stress, fatigue, financial hardship or grief can impair returning employees’ performance and sometimes lead to substance abuse. The transition back to work creates an ideal opportunity to review signs of worker impairment and remind staff of the existing employer drug testing policy.
Opioid Overdoses Rise in 30 States
The National Safety Council (NSC) advises that the ongoing health crisis will affect workers’ mental health and well-being far beyond this initial period. And because many businesses now work remotely, physical signs of impairment may be harder to spot. However, supervisors still can watch for troubling behavior or performance changes.
Obviously, not all worker impairment involves substance abuse. However, the NSC reports a spike in opioid overdose fatalities in at least 30 states during the pandemic. Consequently, the NSC also reminds employers to provide workers access to needed programs and resources.
Return to Work Drug Testing
The NSC recommends these supervisor trainings to support returning workers and help ensure a safe workplace:
- Understanding stress, fatigue and mental health conditions and their relationship to worker health and impairment
- Understanding substance use disorders (SUDs) and their relationship to worker health and impairment
- Recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress, depression and substance misuse in team members and encouraging them to seek help from qualified mental health and/or addiction professionals
- Their employer’s Drug Free Workplace Program (DFWP), including effective communication of the DFWP to employees
- Drug testing procedures related to impairment
Benefits of a Drug-Free Workplace Program
Mobile Health can help employers establish a drug-free workplace program to prevent drug abuse among employees. A company’s pre-employment drug tests help to discourage current drug users from applying. Additionally, random and annual drug testing deter drug use and foster a drug-free workplace.
In general, successful DFWPs contain five elements:
- Written policy
- Employee education
- Supervisor/management training
- Employee assistance program (EAP)
- Employer drug testing
The most obvious benefit of a DFWP is reduced drug use among workers. Additionally, New York Code Rule 60 and other programs offer incentives for businesses that maintain a zero-tolerance policy for drug use. Over time, businesses with DFWPs report reduced use of medical benefits by employees and their families, lower turnover, higher productivity and better employee health.
Next-Day Appointments, Expedited Results
Mobile Health works with your business to perform a needs assessment and set up a drug-free policy to address employer concerns and meet industry requirements. Blood, hair and SAMHSA & DOT-certified urine drug tests detect anywhere from 5 to 13 commonly abused drugs. Clients can schedule next-day tests at any of 2,700+ locations/collection sites in New York and nationwide. Expedited results can be reviewed in the online Client Portal to speed hiring decisions.
We understand the uncertainty you’re facing at this moment. Rely on our 35+ years of occupational health experience to help your business reopen safely and resume drug testing during return to work. Contact Mobile Health today for a consultation for all your occupational health needs.