Manufacturers Address Drugs in the Workplace

by Ashley Burleson, membership, engagement and analytics manager
MAPP’s recent Drugs in the Workplace Report revealed that 94 percent of manufacturers across the United States have a drug policy in place.

Ninety-four percent of manufacturers across the United States currently have a drug policy in place, according to a recent report published by the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP). The recent Drugs in the Workplace Report revealed that, while the majority of surveyed manufacturers already have drug policies in place, many are searching for ways to update, improve or implement new policies in response to changing US drug laws and the opioid crisis.

The Drugs in the Workplace Report is the first of its kind generated by MAPP. The report data come from a study done in collaboration with the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) and the Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers (ARPM). Both the questions and format of the study were guided by manufacturing industry professionals.

Graph 1. Marijuana and cocaine are the drugs most frequently screened for among the companies surveyed.

The study included questions regarding status of policies, types of drugs screened (Graph 1), situational drug testing, company programs and available education. Along with the study, company drug policies were collected from 48 US manufacturing organizations. These policies were analyzed by MAPP staff for trends, as well as gaps within policies.

Drug policy analysis

As stated above, the vast majority of manufacturers have written drug policies, but the thoroughness, implementation and relevance given the changing landscape vary greatly. For instance, three different potential situations for drug testing were surveyed: pre-employment drug screening, post-accident drug screening and random drug testing. Of those, 81 percent of manufacturers always drug test before hiring an employee (Graph 2), 58 percent report always testing post-accident (Graph 3) and only 28 percent always conduct random drug screenings (Graph 4).

Graph 2. Eighty-one percent of companies surveyed always conduct pre-employment drug testing.
Graph 3. After an accident, 58 percent of those surveyed continue to drug test post-incident.
Graph 4. Only 28 percent of those surveyed consistently conduct random drug testing.

Some manufacturers indicated they are required to drug test in specific situations due to their workers’ comp programs, while others remarked that the additional cost has kept them from screening employees.

Why is this important? According to a recent article by Federated Insurance, drug testing employees actually saves companies money in the long run. This savings can come from direct savings, such as those available through workers’ comp discounts, or indirect savings, as employees under the influence of drugs and alcohol are most likely to experience a workplace injury.

However, cost alone isn’t the only barrier to drug testing of employees. A tightened labor pool, legalization of marijuana and an opioid crisis have caused some in the industry to loosen their in-house procedures regarding drug testing. As one executive put it, “If I randomly drug tested some of my most reliable production employees, I know that they would fail. I simply cannot risk losing these key employees, especially in this labor market.”

Others have changed their policies, especially in areas where recreational and medicinal marijuana are legal. “We allow medical marijuana on drug screenings if the employee has a doctor’s authorization,” reported another study participant. Nevertheless, some manufacturers indicated that even though medicinal or recreational marijuana use is legal in their area, they still do not allow testing positive on any drug screenings for this substance.

Rather than change the rules, many have turned to educational programming and employee assistance programs to maintain a drug-free workplace. While only 16 percent of participants report that they host any on-site educational programs regarding the impact of drugs as a prevention method or safety training, this number may continue to grow, as several have indicated they currently are looking to implement such training.

Along the same lines, 54 percent reported they have a company employee assistance program in place to help provide treatment through either inpatient or outpatient programs. Indeed, several of the policies submitted even outline the process for accessing and utilizing these programs if an employee is struggling with drugs or alcohol.

By analyzing the policies submitted by participating manufacturers, additional topics were present that other manufacturers may consider implementing. These include specific language regarding changing marijuana laws in their state, “failure to cooperate” clauses, inspection of personal property while an employee is on the job, employees’ right to contest a drug test result, allowing the employee to come forward ahead of time if he/she may fail a drug test and seek assistance, and employee behavioral expectations while consuming alcohol or using drugs during work-related events.

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