Drug Free Workplace

According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), most drug users 18-49 years old are employed full time.  Post-injury drug testing is an effective way for an employer to send a strong message to employees, reduce liability for drug-related workplace accidents, and reduce an employer’s claims experience and exposure.  

Don’t think this applies to you?  Drug abusers are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in an accident at work and 5 times more likely to file a workers’ compensation claim (www.workplace.samhsa.gov).  And, the accident will cost the employer 300% more in medical costs than other employees (http://bit.ly/NaVM6j).  

In Virginia, an employer can challenge a workers’ compensation claim where an employee has a positive post-accident test.  The Virginia code section 65.2-306 provides that compensation is not allowed when an injury is caused by intoxication or use of a non-prescribed controlled substance.  In the case of a controlled substance, the test must be performed by a SAMHSA certified laboratory.  If a positive test results, the code section provides the employer with a rebuttable presumption that the employee was intoxicated due to using a controlled substance at the time of the injury. (*As a reminder, per the Commonwealth Contractors’ General Safety Rules, it is a requirement that member employers perform post-accident drug testing.*)

However, an employee’s intoxication alone will not bar his right to workers’ compensation benefits.  The employer still has a burden of proving that the intoxication was a proximate cause of the accident.  So when any workplace accidental injury occurs, a thorough investigation is an integral part of any potential defenses for workplace injuries involving drugs or alcohol.  

Any employer that has a comprehensive drug testing program that includes pre-employment, random, and post-accident testing will likely deter drug using workers from attempting to obtain employment with you.  

Commonwealth Contractors offers a 5% premium credit to members who have implemented an approved Substance Abuse Program.

The member may become eligible any time throughout the plan year.  The member is approved by meeting these minimum guidelines and must re-certify with Commonwealth Contractors each year that the program is in compliance. 

Although these guidelines can assist the member in creating a Substance Abuse Program, every employer should first CONSULT WITH AND RELY ON THE ADVICE OF AN ATTORNEY EXPERIENCED WITH SUCH PROGRAMS.

For information about how to establish a drug-free workplace please contact Commonwealth Contractors at 804-858-2000.

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