Construction Safety & Drug Abuse - Executive Briefing

June 06, 2006 |

Washington D.C.

May 22, 2006


This event was hosted by Avitar and included representatives from national contractors, unions and risk and insurance brokerages.The attendee’s discussed past, current and future drug screening trends as it relates to job site safety.

Participants included:

• Turner Construction - Laura Jargo-Fowler, Mid Atlantic Director Loss Control & Safety

• The Branch Group - Danny Minnix, Director Human Resources & Risk Management

• United Steelworkers of
- James McAnich, CEAP

• The Facchina Group - Joseph J. Poliafico, Director Risk Management and Human Resources

Risk Engineering - Chris Poe, Senior Risk Engineer

Quotes from Panelists

Laura Jargo-Fowler, Mid Atlantic Director Loss Control & Safety, Turner Construction

- “construction workers know which companies drug test and which ones don’t”

-  “random testing is a critical part of any drug free workplace program”

- “quite frankly we drug test because we have to…our insurance company says we have to…and we would have an unsafe workplace otherwise”

- “as a result of drug testing our ‘lost time’ and incidence rate is down 50% from when we started testing three years ago”

Danny Minnix, Corporate Safety Director, The Branch Group

- “Education is very important…for example employees need to know that it’s not okay to use a friend’s prescription pain meds and/or to be impaired on-the-job”.

- “Corporations have a moral and legal obligation to their employees to provide a drug free workplace, random drug testing, supported by other testing modes is a very important tool”

Joseph J. Poliafico, Director HR & Risk Management, The Facchina Group of Companies, LLC

- “
and corporate
have a huge problem with drugs.While I sympathize with it, and have friends and family affected by it, as a director of both HR and Safety it is my responsibility to allocate the bulk of my resources to the 80%-90% of workers that don’t abuse drugs. Our corporation has a responsibility to provide a safe work environment to our over 1,000 employee, and random, oral-based testing is a key component of our safety solution”

- “Education is important, however, drug testing provides the highest level of deterrence to on-the-job drug abuse and the best ROI”.

James McAninch, CEAP, United Steelworkers of America

- “Workplace drug abuse in
is not going to go away”

- “Drug abuse in
is far worse today than in the past”

- “At certain locations our pre-employment testing positive rate is 50%.”

- “Our most serious problem drugs now are painkillers (oxycontin) and meth”

- “Prescription painkillers (oxycontin, vicodin, percoset) represent 30% of our drug problem, and the next step from prescription painkillers is heroin.”

- “With an aging workforce, the illicit use of painkillers is becoming very prevalent.”

- “If you haven’t seen a problem with meth in your company, you will…. It is racing across the company, and just around the corner. It is inexpensive, very addictive, and very destructive.”

- “Union members and management both are in agreement that you can’t have drug or alcohol impaired workers on the job.”

- “Our post-hire drug testing program is currently impairment based.”

- “We have an active EAP, and employ SAPs (substance abuse professionals).”

- “Trust is critical in the workplace as is peer support for a substance abuse program including drug testing.”

- “We currently only perform reasonable suspicion testing as a post-hire test mode, however, I believe RANDOM testing would improve our already successful program.”

- “Our current drug free workplace program can be summarized by three words; EDUCATE, TEST, & TREAT.”

Chris Poe, Sr. Risk Engineer, Zurich Risk Engineering

- “the implementation of a comprehensive drug free workplace program is the key, inclusive of RANDOM drug testing…. Just having a written drug policy is not enough”

Questions from Audience:

1. Who typically takes the lead for drug testing in a company HR or Safety?

  • “It really varies from company to company. Safety personnel usually are on the front line and see the impact of drug abuse, and may drive for a corporate solution, HR may be responsible for implementation”- Branch

2. What are the problems with tradition forms of drug testing?

  • “Urine testing can’t be directly observed, and therefore the biggest problem with this traditional form of testing is drug abusers ‘beating the test’ by diluting or substituting urine. I have seen people with devices that consist of bags of urine under their arms and a tube running down their arm. It’s impossible to detect these devices unless the bag breaks or something leaks…which is what I saw happen. The main reasons we switched to oral fluid is because it can’t be cheated. You should have seen the shock factor when employees realized that we were going to test with oral fluid. They knew they weren’t going to be able to beat it. Oral fluid testing is also less expensive for employees as you don’t have to send them off-site” – Branch

  • “I agree…urine adulteration and substation is a big problem.The use of oral fluid eliminates this issue. It’s also important to state in your corporate drug policy that any attempt to adulterate or substitute a sample with result in an automatic ‘Positive’ result.” – Steelworkers

  • “Many firms only do pre-employment testing, RANDOM testing is required, as well as post-accident, reasonable suspicion, and return-to-duty” – Turner, Branch, Facchina

3. Does anyone use certified specimen collectors (i.e. DATIA: CPC, CPCT), or third party?

  • “No, we use our own employees certified by Avitar” - Facchina

  • “We use a third party for collections” -Turner

4. Do you do confirmatory tests for non-negative screens and what happens if someone tests non-negative?

  • “Yes, and you should also use an MRO” – Branch

  • “After years of drug testing we have never had a false positive” – Branch

  • “The employee is immediately put on suspension while a confirmatory test is done. If the confirmatory test backs up the on-site screen and an MRO provides a final positive determination, the employee is terminated.If the confirmation process provides a negative, then we pay for the time the employee was suspended”– Facchina

  • “We escort employees with non-negative screens from our facility”- Steelworkers

5. How do you select employees for a random program?

  • “We use a random selection program. There are many programs and services available. Employers can make the selections themselves, or hire a third party.”- Facchina

6. What is the ROI of you drug testing program?

  • “Beyond lower accident rates, lower employee turnover, and higher productivity, we even get a 5% discount on our workers comp premium in the State ofVirginia” – Branch

  • “It reduces our insurance modifier by 50%” - Turner, Facchina, Branch

7. If someone comes forward and admits to drug problems, what do you do?

  • “They are referred to our EAP and are also tested regularly” – Turner

  • “It depends on the company’s policy, many involve EAP and subsequent return to work, and follow-up testing for 90 days to 2 years.” - Branch

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