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Drugs Don't Work program aids employers

There's one instance where businesses don't need to compete. If all businesses become part of the Drugs Don't Work program, the entire community will benefit.

"The more employers that start a drug-free workplace, the safer Thomson-McDuffie will be," said Jim McFadyen, the human resource and safety manager for Two State Construction Co. "Because what happens is, our employees who are terminated for using drugs, they just go down the street and take a job with somebody that does not drug test, and they keep right on using."

Offered by the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce, Drugs Don't Work assists businesses in becoming drug-free workplaces certified by the state of Georgia. This certification entitles businesses to a 7.5 percent discount on their workers' compensation rates.

"It's not just a discount, but it's good for people to be drug free," said Chamber of Commerce Director Carolyn Gilbert. "The discount is a perk on top of that."

The U.S. Department of Labor has proven that drug-using employees file three to five times as many workers' comp claims as employees who don't use drugs. Drug users have 300 percent higher medical costs, are 3.6 times more likely to injure themselves or another person in a workplace accident, are 2.5 times more likely to be absent eight or more days a year, and are one-third less productive.

Mr. McFadyen said that before Two State joined the program, the company was averaging a 5 percent drug positive rate. Within the first year of being on the program, that rate dropped to less than 1 percent.

"It gave us a tool to encourage our employees to stay drug free. We gave them a reason to be able to say no if their friends wanted them to smoke or whatever. It enabled them to stay drug free if they wanted to keep their job. And the guys in the field didn't have to worry about who they were working next to and if they were high or not," he said.

Mr. McFadyen said the program helps with the administrative and legal aspects of drug testing.

"We didn't have to worry about going through legal counsel to make sure we dotted all our i's and crossed all our t's," he said. "We've got a good, smooth program that any employer in the CSRA that wants to become a drug-free workplace can do. It's just a simple matter of contacting Mrs. Gilbert at the chamber."

In order to join, Mrs. Gilbert said businesses must be a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Certification must be renewed each year, and Mrs. Gilbert said many businesses think they are certified, but might have lost their status because of a change in staff or not keeping reports updated.

Drugs Don't Work certification provides group discounts on drug testing, employee assistance programs, supervisor training and employee substance abuse education.

In collaboration with the program, the chamber is presenting "The Faces of Addiction," this morning from 7:30 until 9:30 at the Depot. Presenters will include Lt. Scott Whittle with the Thomson Police Department, Barry Whitfield with McDuffie County Sheriff's Department and Ann Moss of Moss Counseling Service.

Today's free program is open to chamber and nonchamber members and will count as two hours of training for Drugs Don't Work members.

For more information, call (706) 597-1000.

Web posted on Thursday, October 22, 2009

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