Construction firms must always be mindful of their safety practices. Whether it’s identifying hazards, performing a risk assessment, training and educating your workforce, or ensuring everyone on the site is wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), employers must be proactive with their safety initiatives to ensure everyone remains safe on their jobsite and to reduce the number of visits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
All of the above items are great ways to start the process of promoting safety in the workplace; however, there are some safety prevention items that also need to be addressed in your employee manual. As we will discuss in this brief article, two policies that can bolster safety efforts are those pertaining to workplace violence and substance abuse. Implementing zero-tolerance policies for these diversions can help you send a clear message to your workforce that certain conduct will not be tolerated at your workplace. For employee manual drafting, speak with a Florida OSHA lawyer.
Zero Tolerance in the Workplace
The term “zero tolerance” is sure to generate feelings one way or another. Some employers prefer to not utilize this wording as it’s difficult to develop company policies that will consistently add up. In other cases, the term “zero tolerance” can generate a feeling of empowerment. The truth is that every workplace needs a few policies in place that take a strong stance against serious workplace issues like violence, sexual harassment, drug use, discrimination, theft, and other unprofessional acts. For safety measures, an employee manual should feature anti-drug and workplace violence policies.
Drug-Free Workplace Policy
A drug-free workplace policy establishes for existing and future employees that the use of illegal drugs or alcohol will not be tolerated in the workplace. Generally, this includes:
- The use, possession, sale, or solicitation of illegal drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication (without a prescription) at the workplace
- If an employee is impaired or under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol at the workplace
- If the presence of any prohibited substances is detected in an employee’s system while at work
Some employers will conduct drug or alcohol testing to ensure the workplace is drug-free. This includes random testing (employees are randomly selected), for-cause testing (if the company suspects that an employee may be under the influence) and post-accident testing (employees are tested after an accident). With an opiod crisis that is impacting the construction industry, it’s critical that employers have a drug-free workplace to ensure all of their workers remain safe on the jobsite.
Workplace Violence Policy
Workplace violence is a term that can refer to a variety of forms of abuse and mistreatment. This includes:
- Verbal abuse, including an employee that makes threats, says offensive comments, or uses degrading language
- Psychological abuse, including any conduct that is intended to provoke fear in a coworker
- Sexual misconduct, including any inappropriate remarks or physical contact
- Acts of violence, including pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, choking, biting, or harming a coworker in any way
- Any form of threatening, intimidating, or bullying others
- Concealing a weapon or use of any weapon
Any of the above actions cannot be tolerated in the workplace as they put employees’ safety at risk. Any such behavior should warrant disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
If your employee handbook needs to be revised to include either of these policies, consult a Florida OSHA defense lawyer.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.