Magazine article Security Management

Why Don't We Get off the Fence?

Magazine article Security Management

Why Don't We Get off the Fence?

Article excerpt


WE IN THE SECURITY INDUSTRY are involved in a pitched battle against the individuals who manufacture, transport, and sell illegal substances. They have unlimited resources--cash, transportation, weapons, and personnel. The best efforts of law enforcement, at any level, cannot defeat them alone. Society will not be successful in reducing substance abuse until people work together to keep pushers out of our schools and businesses and off the streets.

The federal government recognizes the magnitude of this growing national crisis and has enacted legislation to solicit the help of the nation's businesses. The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 mandates the establishment of comprehensive substance abuse programs by federal contractors, federal grant recipients, or anyone operating under federal funding exceeding $25,000. Included in the requirements are an employee awareness program and penalties for any employee manufacturing, transporting, selling, and using illegal substances. Employers without federal funding may see requirements imposed by state governments.

Some employers, however, refuse to believe they are affected. They would prefer not to make a decision, to sit on the fence rather than decide on a course of action. They do not take the time or make the effort to understand the cost of absenteeism, theft, on-the-job accidents, or slowed production--all of which may be attributed to substance abuse. When faced with making a decision or looking the other way, some employers take the stance that "it doesn't do any good," "our attorney advises against it," or "I can't afford to fight these people." These are excuses based on ignorance.

A primary requirement when dealing with substance abuse is to adopt a fair, comprehensive policy that addresses situations that may arise in the workplace. Most employees would like to eliminate substance abuse from their job sites; these employees should be considered in the formulation of policy. Once the policy is written, it should be communicated to the entire work force--verbally and in writing.

The next step involves the supervisor or manager, who is a key player in this battle. He or she has the daily opportunity to observe behavior and document activity. It is this documentation that helps provide what the courts call probable cause. Once reasonable suspicions are documented and analyzed, the employer may recommend counseling, rehabilitation, or even termination of employment. Many employers feel that rehabilitation is not their responsibility, but the courts disagree. Legislation already introduced includes this provision and allows job termination following the failure to complete a rehabilitation program, refusal to enter one, or a second occurrence. …

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