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Alcohol and Drugs in the Workplace: Costs, Controls, and Controversies.

Alcohol & Drugs in the Workplace: Costs, Controls, and Controversies Reviewer: Frank P. Rock, CPP, Private Security Consultant, Frank P. Rock & Associates, Southport, CT; Member of ASIS Like many BNA Reports, Alcohol & Drugs in the Workplace is not the work of a single author but was prepared by the labor special projects unit of BNA. The report presents current research and literature in substance abuse and uses opinions and statistics from nationally recognized experts in the field. Of particular interest are 14 brief case studies describing how each company perceived and responded to workplace drug use.

In seven chapters the report covers the costs, controls, and controversies involved in workplace substance abuse. The report presents several sources, experts, and publications to provide a variety of views. Those chapters include the following topics:

] Costs of chemical abuse. Drug use results in absenteeism, theft, accidents, medical costs, and numerous other problems. Estimates of amounts vary from $40 billion to $99 billion.

] Chemical abuse profile. Despite the attention focuses on cocaine and marijuana in recent years, alcohol continues to be the biggest substance abuse problem in the United States.

] Rules and policies against abuse. The recommendations and different approaches of six trade associations are summarized.

] Drug testing. This is probably the most controversial measure presently employed in the battle against workplace drug use. Preemployment, post-accident, probable cause, and random tests have their advocates and opponents. The report presents both views. The past, present, and future of workplace drug testing are reviewed from several sources.

] Employee assistance programs (EAPs). The extent and costs of various EAPs are outlined. The report notes that a company's willingness to support an EAP depends on what top management perceives as the company's obligation.

] Employee-management developments. Union cooperation is frequently forthcoming if the problem is approached on the basis of mutual concern and cooperation. Unions are understandably wary of substance abuse control measures that are mainly punitive.

] Legislative developments. An article analyzing legal and legislative developments pertaining to workplace drug and alcohol control is reprinted here. The article is a reprint of material used at a November 1985 BNA conference. Court decisions are constantly affecting this topic; therefore, current legal advice is essential.

It has been my experience that many security and human resource professionals recognizing a drug abuse problem in their companies' workplace have been frustrated by a lack of top management support for their recommendations or efforts to address it. This is usually due to top management's wishful thinking that there is no problem or its preference to see what the rest of industry will do first. With 50 to 60 percent of surveyed employers without a written drug use policy, these attitudes continue to be pervasive in the workplace.

The 14 case studies included in the report could help educate top management as to what a good cross section of well-known US companies are doing. The 14 companies have their specific programs spelled out. These case studies, together with the views of eight experts--including Peter Ueberroth, former commissioner of major league baseball--should be very useful in presenting persuasive arguments to top management to support an appropriate policy and program now.

This report is, after all, only an overview of the problem. Recent books, studies, and full-length articles examine in far greater detail each of the subjects covered. However, after reading this report one cannot help but conclude that substance abuse in the workplace is not only a security problem but is also a human resources problem, an EAP problem, a legal problem, a medical problem, a safety problem, and a labor relations problem. Substance abuse is all of these, and, as the report indicates, it must be addressed as the management problem it is.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Rock, Frank P.
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1989
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