Cedric Fernando On Establishing Your Startup's Workplace Substance Abuse Monitoring Program

Amid the many programs and plans a startup requires, its workplace substance abuse monitoring program (WSAMP) can go the furthest to help the fledgling business stay on track, says Cedric Fernando, MD, Director of Occupational Health at Unicoi County Memorial Hospital. That’s because the WSAMP helps the company’s employees remain healthy.

Cedric Fernando

 Benefits of a Workplace Substance Abuse Monitoring Program

A WSAMP does more than drug testing. This monitoring program offers educational tools to employees and workshops on handling stress. These workshops offer employees important alternatives to help them avoid using alcohol or drug abuse to cope with stress.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the US government provide free toolkits and guides to businesses to help you get started. Startups that implement such a program from the outset put themselves ahead of competing businesses that don’t yet have a WSAMP. Use these six essential steps to begin planning your startup’s program.

1. Conduct a workplace assessment. What needs can you identify that relate to substance use or abuse?

2. Identify the resources available to your business for program creation. Even a boot-strapped startup can implement a good-quality program by using free materials and resources, such as those that SAMHSA offers. Also, consider writing a grant proposal for funds for this type of program. SAMHSA offers a grant program.

3. Research and write your business’s drug-free workplace policy. You’ll need to provide this to each employee.

4. Decide if your WSAMP will include an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If you do include an EAP, plan it out during step four. The US Office of Personnel Management offers numerous resources and guides for employers covering how to set up and administer an EAP.

5. Design your drug testing program. Although some businesses forgo a testing program, including one can help you quickly identify problems during the startup phase so they don’t hamper your growth efforts.

6. Plan your company’s educational program and employee training related to avoiding abuse issues. This includes planning programs for supervisors on how to deal with employee substance abuse issues if they arise.

Writing out your business’s drug-free workplace policy forms an effective program’s cornerstone, Cedric Fernando MD says. Establishing an EAP can also help control costs because helping an employee obtain treatment offers a more cost-effective solution than lost productivity and the creation of unsafe working conditions.

read more: David Bennett Galloway III

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