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Drugs and Alcohol Training Q&A
- Does OSHA require employers to provide drug and alcohol training?
- Although there is no specific standard issued by OSHA concerning workplace drug and alcohol programs, OSHA's General Duty Clause can be used to enforce this type of work environment. OSHA strongly recommends the establishment of reasonable drug and alcohol prevention policies in the workplace, as such policies are natural and invaluable components of a safe and healthy workplace. Such programs typically include: a written policy, supervisor training, employee education, employee assistance, and drug testing. These programs, however, also need to take into consideration employee rights to privacy.
- Can OSHA fine a company for failing to provide drug and alcohol training?
- No; it cannot fine a company for that specific reason, because OSHA does not have specific standards that require drug and alcohol training. However, in the absence of a specific standard, citations for violation of the General Duty Clause can be issued. In this case, a violation may be cited if: (1) the "hazard" [of a workplace where employees perform under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs] is present, (2) is "recognized" by the employer or the employer's industry, (3) is causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm, and (4) if there is a realistic means available to eliminate or severely mitigate the hazard. Furthermore, preventive measures (i.e. such training programs) may significantly diminish the risk of workplace hazards (which would result in fines) and consequent accidents. Training programs should discourage employee drug use, which is a legal liability.
- How often should we drug test our employees?
- OSHA encourages drug testing as a component of a worksite's drug and alcohol prevention program, but does not enforce specific drug testing regulations. It is critical to familiarize yourself with your local, state, and federal laws in order to determine the details (who will be tested, when and how tests will be conducted, and which drugs will be tested for). In Illinois and Virginia, for instance, businesses can't require employees (or job applicants) to pay for testing themselves. According to the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act, businesses that receive $100K (or more) in federal funds are required to conduct drug tests. The majority of employers in the U.S., however, aren't required to drug test. In fact, many state and local governments limit or prohibit workplace testing unless otherwise regulated by state or federal law for specific jobs. Private employers do maintain the right to test for a wide variety of substances. Therefore, the timing and frequency of drug tests vary, but testing could be conducted pre-employment, upon reasonable suspicion, post-accidently, post-rehab, randomly, and/or periodically.
- Can OSHA come on our worksite and conduct drug tests?
- No. OSHA does have the right to come to the worksite and check the records which the employer maintains on the results of employee drug tests, but OSHA does not send representatives to personally conduct any drug testing.
- An employee was injured in an accident at work and was under the influence of drugs, is this injury recordable?
- Yes. If an employee is injured on the facility premises while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the injury is recordable. The incident is determined as work-related because the injuries occur on the facility premises and result from the employee's condition in the work environment.
- Can we drug test certain employees based on reasonable suspicion?
- Yes. "Reasonable suspicion" is one circumstance under which an organization may require a drug test. It is conducted when supervisors document observable signs/symptoms that imply drug use or a drug-free workplace policy violation.
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