Friday, July 19, 2002

George Mindling Column 7-19-2002


Implementing a Drug-Free Workplace


When Governor Jeb Bush signed Senate Bill 264 back on April 11, he signed into law a new requirement for everyone doing business with the state of Florida. Being certified as a Drug Free Workplace is no longer just a way to get a 5-percent discount on a company's worker's compensation insurance. Being certified will be mandatory, as of Oct. 1, if a company, even a subcontractor, wants to work on property or projects from the state of Florida.

The new law stipulates that an employer must implement drug testing for employees and job applicants in order to qualify as having a drug-free workplace program. In addition, construction, electrical, and alarm system contractors must implement a drug-free program to qualify to do business with the state.

For the small business owner who does business with the state, this may seem to he an burdensome and costly new process to be added to the task of running a small business. There is help, however, and it comes from the Small Business Administration.
During the recent Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan presentation at the Charlotte County Airport. Todd Shoulberg gave an unexpected, but very welcome, overview of the upcoming changes in Florida's drug- free workplace program. Shoulder's firm, Florida Drug Screening Inc., of Palm Bay, offering assistance in setting up a company's Drug Free Workplace Program under a grant from the Small Business Administration.

Currently, Florida Drug Screening is offering a turnkey program/policy in compliance with the code, including Drug Free Workplace Notice, written Drug Free Workplace policy, 60 day notification to employees, set up of collection site, lab and Medical Review Officer who reviews the test results, customized pre-printed chain of custody forms, drug testing of applicants. Also included are annual drug and alcohol education as required, supervisor training materials, post-accident and reasonable-suspicion requirements, and access to an employee assistance program.

The one-time fee for the above services is currently waived and the $38 individual testing fee for employees/applicants is waived until Dec. 31, under the SBA grant program. To be qualified as a drug-free workplace, five conditions must he satisfied. First, there must he a written drug policy in place and available for employee access. There should be no surprises to an employee about a company's drug policy. Secondly. there must he an employee drug education program. and thirdly, there must be training for supervisors.

There must he employee assistance, as determined by the drug policy. Lastly. there must he a drug test. Existing or current employees are "grandfathered” for 60 days without action, then are subject to testing. The testing may be at random, but must he stipulated in the company's drug policy.

Contact Todd Shoulberg at (888) 441-4599 for more information about the SBA program and the application form for small businesses. This is a great opportunity for a small businesses to become certified without cost, and is smart business to boot. Even the 5-percent discount on worker's compensation insurance carrier filing is included in the package.

George Mindling © 2002

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