National Drug-Free Work Week 2007 will be held October 14-20, and employers and workers across the nation are encouraged to participate. The goal of Drug-Free Work Week is to highlight the importance of being drug-free as a component to improving workplace safety and health and to encourage workers with alcohol and drug problems to seek help.

The Drug-Free Work Week campaign is a collaborative effort between the Department of Labor and members of its Drug Free Workplace Alliance, of which LIUNA became a member on July 10, 2006. The Alliance is the Labor Department’s first ever cooperative agreement focusing exclusively on improving worker safety and health in the construction industry through drug-free workplace programs. Additional information can be accessed at the Alliance website.

A main goal of the Alliance is to assist in the development of drug-free workplace trainings and educational materials. This fall, posters in English and Spanish and hard hat stickers are being distributed to LIUNA training centers and Field Coordinators. The materials reinforce a positive message about drug-free workplaces. One of the posters is construction industry-specific while the other depicts multiple industries. Additional products developed by the Alliance include “pocket cards” and “fact sheets.” These items can be used for purposes such as tool box talks and paycheck stuffers.

Substance abuse is a growing concern in North American workplaces. Jobsites where Laborers are employed are no exception. In July, 2007, an updated study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, titled “Worker Substance Use and Workplace Policies and Programs,” shows that construction workers have the highest rate of current illicit drug use, second only to food service workers, and that construction workers have the highest rate of current heavy alcohol use.   At the same time, LIUNA’s signatory employers are increasingly declaring their jobsites to be “drug-free” and expect workers to be “fit for duty” as a job requirement.

Although Drug-Free Work Week is October 14th-20th, LIUNA encourages the promotion of drug-free workplaces throughout the year. There are many ways to highlight and promote drug free workplaces, including:

  • Implementing a drug-free workplace policy
  • Promoting an existing drug-free workplace program
  • Training supervisors and shop stewards on issues pertaining to drug-free workplaces and policies
  • Educating workers on the nature of alcohol and drug abuse and its negative impact on workplace safety and productivity
  • Having a list of local rehabilitation and treatment resources available for workers/members looking for help (such as MAP/LAP programs, community resources, insurance/benefit information and national resources such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous)

More detailed information and additional ideas for employers and local unions alike can be found on the Department of Labor’s Working Partners for an Alcohol- and Drug-Free Workplace website. A useful publication, available from the LHSFNA, is It’s Your Choice When You Know the Facts about Drugs and Alcohol. It and other resources are available on the LHSFNA website.