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How can a contractor keep drugs out of the workforce?

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2019 | Construction Law

If you’re a South Florida contractor, you can’t afford to let a drugged-out construction crew jeopardize your company’s reputation and results. Employee drug use puts the entire crew at risk of injury (or worse) and can increase the possibility of legal action being taken against the company.

Drugged-out workers affect the business in the following ways:

  • Lowered work performances
  • Higher worker turnover
  • Less productivity
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Tardiness
  • Rising workers’ comp and medical
  • Enhanced likelihood of workplace violence and/or crime

But what can you legally do when you suspect that one or more of your workers may be using drugs on the job?

Here, the devil is in the details. Protect yourself legally by having a strong, enforceable policy for testing workers for alcohol and drug use when impairment is suspected. This should be in addition to any pre-employment drug screening assessments that you do.

You will also need to thoroughly document any suspicious behavior patterns or complaints from clients, co-workers or other witnesses. Then, make sure that management is aware that there might be a problem and observe the allegedly impaired worker in the altered state. Document their observations to include instances of:

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Odor of alcohol or marijuana
  • Constricted or dilated pupils
  • Excessive sweating unrelated to the weather
  • Personality changes, e.g., irritability or agitation

Never approach an employee whom you suspect of on-the-job impairment without first having all your ducks in line. Then, bring a witness to your confrontation with the employee.

It’s within your legal rights to send an employee to be drug-tested for reasonable suspicion of impairment. Ideally, you will have had them sign a consent form for drug testing upon their employment with the company. If not, have them sign it now as a condition of continued employment.

Don’t let your workers drive themselves to or from the testing facility once impairment is suspected. Should they get into an accident en route, this could potentially open you up to liability. It also gives them an opportunity to consume something that could mask their impairment on the test.

If the results are positive, you then have the option to offer treatment or to terminate their employment on the spot. Whichever option you choose should be in line with the policies you and your trusted legal adviser have devised and put into place.