Tag Archives: Addiction is a Safety Issue

Why Would You Want Your Employee to Have a Substance Abuse Assessment?


Whay bother with an assessment? Can’t you just ask the employee what they want?

No! You are looking to have some simple questions answered that you probably can’t answer yourself. If these simple questions are not answered then over the long term the employee could get worse, allot worse. That is bad for safety and also for the person. If things go really bad they could be very bad for you. Accident maybe?

You want to know how bad the problem is? That is important because that has to be identified to make a treatment plan.

What is the appropriate treatment? Many bosses think that a 28 day rehab will solve all the employee’s problems but how do you know and is that reasonable?  What if it is not?  A friend of mine who used to work in a mental hospital said “I had a whole wing of rehab grads.”

Is the person following the treatment plan? This is important because if they are that points to someone who will be safe in the workplace, if they are not then that would be a negative for sure.

Are they stable enough to return to work with a plan that they are following? Does alcohol or drug testing need to be invoked for safety and deterrence?

Yes, these questions will be answered with an assessment, safety will be addressed and hopefully an employee will be restored.


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Drunk Driving – Cause For Concern in an Employee

 Drunk Driving Conviction

When someone shows such little control that they are charged for drinking and driving that is a big cause for alarm. Society is becoming more realistic about the dangers of drunk driving in recent years even though the media has minimized it in various ways.  The drunk driver is controlling a dangerous weapon, the automobile and there is a potential for great destruction.

Whether they have very poor judgment, an issue with addiction or both, there is something that is not right with an employee who drinks and drives in this day and age where information on the dangers are everywhere.  An opportunity to your employee assessed is right there for you. have

A drunk driving conviction is definitely a sign addiction although more information is needed. Some companies with an advanced alcohol or drug policies send their employees for an assessment when they find out that they have had a recent drunk driving conviction especially if the employee is in a safety sensitive job.

It just makes sense that if you have an employee that has a current drunk driving offence that there is a chance that they may have an alcohol problem that may affect their job performance and the company’s safety. Would you be comfortable with an employee operating an 80 foot crane in an industrial setting with lots of other employees underneath if you knew that they just lost their license for drunk driving recently? Wouldn’t you feel some kind of need to get this checked out? If they are a hard-core drinker they could have a seizure on the work site for example and kill someone. Alternatively, they could be still impaired from the night before or hung over and making poor choices. They could destroy equipment worth millions of dollars. What kind of reputation would your company have if some of these things happened to you and you were letting signs of impairment or addiction slide till the next time? These questions are very useful to think about.

Alcohol is a dangerous drug to some people that are unable to limit their usage. It is really one of the most dangerous drugs out there. It can kill quite easily. Read about why alcohol is called Europe’s Youth Killer. http://www.boes.org/world/europe/who010219alc.html  Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs to have in the workplace.

Not long ago I had to convince a man that a drinking and driving offence on his vacation is still of interest to his employer especially where he drove as a condition of his job. He could not understand why it was any of his company’s business where he was not on the job. Since he lost his driving privileges he was no longer able to drive as was one of his duties. The employer in its lack of foresight just gave him another job where he did not have to drive. As a result of this the employee did not have to look at his problem. This was another example of a company enabling an employee to stay sick and thwarting any sort of realization of safety and drunk driving. The employer should have sent him for an assessment before he ever got back to work for a more effective experience. His employer was actually teaching him that drinking and driving was an ok activity and catered to him with a new job where he did not have to drive.

One of the themes that I bring up when interviewing an employee during an assessment is their legal history. I have noticed that there is a high correlation with addiction and drunk driving. The two go together and if someone has had a conviction it puts me on alert during the assessment that there may be a problem. Most average people do not drink and drive.

The law has recently changed where I live regarding boating safety. If boater gets a drunk driving charge and conviction on the water, part of the sentence is that they would also lose their driver’s license for the road as well. This is only logical and makes total sense to me. If you show little enough care for safety in operating a water craft, it says to me that you could easily drive a car drunk as well.

If someone demonstrates a lack of judgement using a powerful and potentially dangerous weapon called the automobile, what does that say about their thinking process and their capacity to do harm in your workplace?  This is a perfect opportunity to help the employee and protect the public by referring them to a substance abuse professional.

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Maybe it is you that has to do the changing.

Sometimes I have managers asking me questions about how to help one of their employees. I usually ask them some questions too to find out what the problem is. It is amazing that the same patterns are repeated over and over again in many workplaces trying to deal with an addicted employee. The pattern is…… employee gets in trouble, he or she gets a talking to, they promise to be good now, everyone forgets and then they get in trouble again. The problem is that no serious action is taken and no long term accountability results. They don’t realize that without  boundaries that this problem will reoccur. The workplace needs a procedure that they can use to find a solution to the problem that is ethical and will help but primarily this is a safety issue. If substance abuse is looked at from the safety aspect that can affect others then that is where to start. That can be the focus of your plan.

One question I ask a manager or human resource professional looking for my advice on a problem employee is “How long are you prepared to allow this situation go on?” I gauge their seriousness and their intention from that question. I suggest that they do have control over situations that are causing them grief and with some understanding and a procedure things will change.

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Addiction is a Safety Issue

craftsmen-1020156_960_720Undertaking addiction assessments on employees that have found themselves in this procedure has been my work since 1995 when new safety regulations that govern the transportation industry came into effect. I have assessed many employees for addiction. The intent was to assess and to make a decision based on the assessment if the employee needed help prior to returning to work for safety and due diligence purposes. Some were addicts and some were not. Some needed help and some did not. The types of people I have dealt with have ranged from the sensible and cooperative to the loud and hostile. Some of the employees had not faced limits and boundaries regarding their alcohol and drug usage prior to running into the procedure. They either never heard the word “no” or they were able through manipulation to get around the word “no” in some way that has worked for them in the past.  I had to deal with habitual behavior that was hurting the person and had possible safety implications for themselves and others.  Slowly, however, when an employee sees that the workplace is firm on its committment to a safe envirnonment they can make a choice for themselves.

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