What to Do When Substance Abuse is Suspected at a Mine Site

Substance abuse reduces productivity in the workplace but also puts people at serious risk. This is crucial in safety-sensitive occupations that involve operation of heavy machinery or high-risk situations.  The oil and gas, mining and forestry among many other resource sectors are especially vulnerable as work sites are mostly located in isolated areas and operations require and involve heavy machinery.

So what then, is the procedure for when you notice behaviors that may be as a result of drugs or alcohol? Experts suggest formal policies to be created by employers such as mining sector players like Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE: FCX), and procedures should be put in place that help guide in decision-making. We discuss a few of these options below.

Educate the Workforce

An example of an organization that does this is Workplace Safety North, a designated safety and health association located in Ontario. It offers different kinds of safety workshops which promote awareness of the responsibilities and roles of employers and employees in the event that substance use issues come to light in the workplace.

Their half-day sessions describe the different signs of impairment and propose measures that firms can take to decrease the likelihood of their employees not being fit to work.

Seeking third party assistance when a firm would like to set up procedures and policies is an effective way to develop and execute drug and alcohol policies.

Procedures and Policies Should Follow the Rules

Policies state terms and conditions a company will follow and establishes standards for behavior while procedures summarize steps that should be taken if and when an employee is considered not fit to work or does not adhere to the standards outlined by the policy. Procedures also state reporting expectations so that the responsibilities and roles of different staff members and departments are clearly defined.

Where to Find Resources for Preparing Procedures and Policies

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction provides guidance in its 2018 report that centered on workplace substance use policies. In the U.S., several agencies and organizations, such as SAMHA, have a wealth of information mining companies can draw on while formulating their policies.

Those resources review substance use policies while identifying the best practices as well as the lessons learnt. They also show areas that require more improvement and consideration.

Create a workplace habit that promotes a supportive and trusting environment for employees who have been or are affected by substance use issues while making it known that impairment from substance use is intolerable.

Companies are encouraged to develop policies that suit them and the requirements of their workplace, using appropriate input from an individual who can best advice on the best practices, use of current technology as well as legal precedents.

Substance use and abuse is a serious issue. Procedures and policies should take into account other causes for it apart from the ones that directly involve substance use. Counselling may extend to areas such as financial crises, disability, job-related conflicts, wellness, long-term illness as well as nutrition.

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