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Legalized marijuana and the drug-free workplace

The easiest way to keep your construction company out of litigation is to make it a safe place for your employees to work while meeting your customers’ expectations for excellence.

That’s not always easy to do, especially when it comes to trying to keep a drug-free workplace in the era of legalized marijuana. A lot of construction contractors in states that have legalized the drug are confused about how legalization affects drug-free work zones or hiring practices. How can you forbid something that’s legal off-duty and still avoid lawsuits from disgruntled employees?

Consistency is key. Your goal is to make sure that every employee is given the same set of expectations, whether it’s the CEO or the janitor:

— A policy that’s written in plain, clear English that spells out the company’s zero-tolerance expectations.

— An explanation of the testing procedures your company will use on employees, when they will be done, how people will be chosen (randomly or in rotation) and what to expect if an employee fails a drug test.

— An explanation as to why the policy is necessary and what the chief goals are behind it. For example, employee safety is important — but so is the fact that it keeps your business more lucrative by reducing insurance costs in many areas and also making it possible to bid on governmental contracts or large-scale contracts. That directly benefits your employees, not just your company.

— Drug policies need to be signed and dated by all employees, and any new employees must be drug tested before they are finally hired.

— You need to keep in mind that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that automatic post-accident workplace drug testing is illegal unless you have reasonable suspicion that drug use could have played a part in the accident. For example, getting hit by a falling object gives no reasonable basis for suspicion but walking off the end of a loading ramp without watching could involve drug use.

For more advice on how to keep your company on the job and out of the courtroom where employee drug use is involved, consider contacting a construction litigation attorney about the best way to draft and implement a policy.

Source: Equipment World, “Hard Hat High,” Tom Jackson, April 03, 2017