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One of our biggest goals at Bostec Inc. is to help companies manage the oft-dicey world of liability, safety and testing for drugs and alcohol in the workplace.

With local and federal laws regularly in flux, it can be difficult for organizations to know just how to position themselves regarding workplace policy.

After all, employers assume a lot of responsibility when it comes to liability for ensuring a safe workplace for employees and customers. It’s one reason, for example, that 98 percent of the companies Bostec works with opt for marijuana-free workplaces.

Setting up a good drug and alcohol program in your business needn’t be a daunting task. With good advice and attention to workplace basics, Bellingham and Whatcom County companies can craft the HR policies they need.

We’ve done this a lot at Bostec. Here are a few simple things we often tell companies to do regarding workplace safety and accountability:

  • Don’t ignore reports of a drug problem reported by co-workers. It can be easy to brush off accusations or to disbelieve reports, especially when they regard longtime and trusted employees. Don’t do it! Every single report by your employees needs to be followed up on. If a company knows of or suspects abuse by one of its employees, and that employee later gets into an accident, the business could be facing a whole lot of trouble.
  • Empower employees to speak up. People aren’t likely to report a problem if they don’t think it will make a difference or if they think they’ll get in trouble for doing so. Ensure that your employees know that their concerns are taken seriously. If possible, give them an avenue to make anonymous reports.
  • Challenge supervisors to ask the tough questions. Accountability for drug and alcohol use starts on the ground. Supervisors often are in the best possible position to notice changes in employees that might be signs of drug or alcohol abuse. Those employees are the supervisor’s responsibility, and supervisors must be able to step in when necessary and ask the hard questions.
  • Remember that nobody wakes up and says “I want to be an addict.” Opioids change the brain. Perhaps a back injury has led to a dependence on pain pills. This dependence can quickly lead to a downward spiral that ends up in a person becoming addicted. The sooner employees can get help, the better.

For help writing your company’s HR policies regarding drugs and alcohol in the workplace, contact Bostec today. We do a lot of these consultations throughout the Pacific Northwest, and we’re experienced at helping small, medium and large businesses navigate these waters.


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