According to a recent survey by the National Safety Council, 55% of those surveyed said employers need to test for marijuana use. So don’t confuse the fact the marijuana is now legal to use recreationally in Illinois with the idea that you can’t test for its use. You can and you should test, especially when it could impair performance at work that puts others at potential risk.
One of the best moves you can make is to create and update policies that speak to substance abuse. You absolutely have to equip your managers with the education necessary to recognize the physical and behavioral signs of drug use in an employee before they do harm to others and themselves. Since you do have to give the employee the opportunity to contest the basis of a move to discipline or discharge for being under the influence of cannabis, a policy or policies could be invaluable to your company.
That policy should have elements of the following:
- What is the purpose of the substance abuse policy?
- Who does the policy apply to?
- What does drug abuse actually entail in the eyes of your company?
- When you test for drugs and alcohol in your workplace, under what conditions will you do so?
- What will you do with the test results and how will you communicate these results to the employee?
- If an employee is found to be under the influence of drugs (and/or alcohol), how will you deal with that from a procedural standpoint?
- On a related note, what does your disciplinary action toward a policy violator specifically consist of?
Make no mistake: These policies aren’t just safeguards for you. They communicate a responsibility and care for a safe work environment to all of your people. To that end, it can’t be the sole territory of management to recognize what impaired behavior is and isn’t. You have to spread the education on down to all of your workers, particularly since they may be working right next to the impaired person in the facility or in the field. Nobody may be closer to the individual in question, preventing your next possible accident or injury in the process. So be sure to show them how to spot the warning signs in others and the proper way to notify management of the issue.
Your workplace has the right to adopt a policy that expresses a zero-tolerance level of marijuana use, including consuming it, smoking it or even storing it at work. If the employee violates your drug policy, they can be disciplined or fired. What you cannot do is fire an employee or put them on probation for recreational marijuana use outside of work.
Another important aspect of note: An employer like yourself can certainly test for cannabis use in the workplace if you suspect impairment on the job – BUT keep in mind that a drug test that shows marijuana use may not establish that the employee was using it during work hours. They may have recently used it before work. Therefore, assuming the results are conclusive for marijuana use at work may not hold up if only the test is used as proof of impairment. It would be far better if you or other workers can prove demonstration of impairment symptoms in conjunction with the test’s results. This is, admittedly, easier said than done at times. Employers may feel more comfortable acting when the symptoms displayed are extremely clear, leaving little doubt that the employee’s performance is severely impacted by a substance such as marijuana.
While the law on this matter may evolve for employers, it’s vital that you provide your staff members the training to recognize symptoms if they suspect marijuana use in the workplace and subsequent procedures to take based on a strong and updated substance abuse policy you’ve put in place. How do you get there to address all of these areas efficiently to make your workplace that much safer? Talk to our team at SOS Technologies. We can consult with you and your managers on a variety of levels to proactively move quickly to prevent accidents but also how to act in the event of an accident through training on CPR, AED operation and first aid. Or just give the best safety consultants in Illinois a call today at 888.705.6100.