There are ways that both employers and workers can work together to reduce the costs and hazards of drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace.
One of those is the Montana Drug Free Workplace Alliance. The alliance was recently expanded during a signing ceremony attended by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. Five contractors’ associations and five unions sent representatives to the ceremony. Secretary Chao attended to demonstrate her commitment to working with both unions and contractors to protect the safety and health of workers by curbing the abuse of alcohol and other drugs.
The U.S. Labor Department developed the alliance originally in 2004 as a cooperative effort to enhance the safety of employees through prevention of drug abuse. Aimed at the construction and mining industries, the goal is to highlight the methods available for drug use prevention.
The Labor Department notes the high costs of the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, including accidents, errors, and absenteeism. Less obvious but also serious are an increase in illness rates and a drop in workers’ morale. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says alcohol and drug abuse account for many workplace deaths.
Joining the alliance helps workforce development professionals offer guidance to workers with drug problems.
Employers can educate their employees about the dangers of abuse. They can also encourage workers with problems of alcohol and drug abuse to seek professional help. Companies in the alliance are turning to random drug testing and to drug screening of job applicants as ways to cope with the problem.
Unions on hand for the signing ceremony were the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.
Contractors included the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the Associated General Contractors, the National Asphalt Pavement Association, NEA – The Association of Union Constructors, and the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association.
The Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development, which is what WIRED stands for, is a program that was developed and run through the Department of Labor. The need for keeping job skills relevant to the current global economy and job market was a major motivation for the initiation of the program.
When Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, announced the second WIRED grants competition, she said “Investing in area workforces through this collaborative approach will boost entire regions’ economic vitality.” Secretary Chao also said, “This regional economic development strategy transcends political boundaries to better leverage a region’s assets to help workers succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.” With technology improving and the job market changing, it is important for people to stay up to date with the changes. Skills have to be kept sharp. The WIRED initiative supports original approaches to economic development.
A new opportunity for a Montana unemployment grant is here. The third WIRED grants competition was recently announced. The same rules from the previous productions of the program apply. Every governor in the country was notified by mail about the opportunity to compete for a grant. Actually, each region has two opportunities, as each governor can submit two proposals. There is a five million dollar cap on the amount each proposal can ask for, which is more than enough to spark improvement in any region.
So far, through the WIRED grants program, the Dept of Labor has invested a total of $260 million.
The twenty-six regions were selected, between two competitions, and the third run is looking to assist 13 regions again. It’s time to get together and create killer proposals to help your local area to get that financial boost it needs. Programs that educate people and enlighten the skills of the aspiring workforce, or create new positions for workers are just a few of the ways that economies can be improved.
The existing Montana Drug Free Workplace Alliance, originally established in 2004, has recently been updated. It was established by the US Dept. of Labor to raise awareness about the impact drugs and alcohol have in the workplace. The alliance also provides information to on how to establish drug-free workplace programs that protect worker safety and health. It was on the US Dept. of Labor’s first cooperative agreement on improving worker safety through drug abuse prevention.
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao was at the signing ceremony at the US Census Bureau as well as leaders from five labor unions and five contractor associations.
The US Dept of Labor says, “only by addressing drug and alcohol abuse among the entire workforce – those currently employed and those preparing to enter employment – can a drug-free American workforce be achieved.
“Only by addressing drug and alcohol abuse among the entire workforce – those currently employed and those preparing to enter employment – can a drug-free American workforce be achieved,” says the US Dept. of Labor.
The alliance does this by offering information to help workforce development professionals assist individuals with drug or alcohol abuse problems.
The Associated General Contractors, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NEA), the Association of Union Constructors and the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association were present at the signing.
The International Union of Operating Engineers, the Laborers’ International Union of North American, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the United Association for Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada, as well as the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers were also present at the signing.
The new alliance emphasizes Chao’s commitment to working cooperatively with unions and contractor associations to protect workers safety and health. It also offers information to help workforce development professionals assist individuals with drug or alcohol abuse problems.
A recent Montana OSHA alert encourages employers to prepare themselves and their workplaces for a potential influenza pandemic by creating a disaster plan. The plan should include precautions to use during an epidemic and ways to prevent or reduce spreading of the virus.
Precautions employers and employee can take include:
Staying home from work or school if you’re sick
Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze
Using disposable tissues
Washing your hands frequently or regularly using hand sanitizer
Staying at least 6 feet away from those infected with the virus.
Ways a business can prevent or reduce the spreading of the virus include:
Employers reducing the contact between workers by cutting back in-person meetings in favor of conference calls instead.
Encouraging employees to work at home if possible.
Protecting employees from the public by putting up barriers like drive-thru windows.
The influenza virus is spread from person-to-person contact. A mild form of the virus infects many people every year around fall or winter. This form of the virus is not fatal to most healthy adults because the majority of people have developed immunity to it. Only young children, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems could die from the typical seasonal flu.
An influenza pandemic is different. It involves a new strain of the flu that people haven’t had a chance to develop an immunity to. This is what happened in the Spanish Flu between 1918 and 1920. The virus first appeared on a military base in Kansas and spread across the globe killing more than 50 million people in 18 months.
Wartime censorship prevented the publishing of many stories of the flu, except in the Spanish newspapers. Which is how the Spanish flu got its name. Newspaper stories told of how healthy young adults died within days of contacting the disease.
The OSHA says it’s important to plan for a pandemic because a pandemic could disrupt the global economy more than a single terrorist attack. There is currently no risk of a pandemic.
Even if you’re not a coalminer, you could be injured – or even killed – in a mining accident. You may be surprised to learn that mining accidents are more than the disasters we see on the news. Actually, most accidents in and around mines affect children, outdoor sports enthusiasts, and workers in unrelated fields.
Montana worker safety is at risk. Many deadly accidents as well involved children and recreational users. Mine-related accidents have taken the lives of more than 200 people since 1999.
So the MSHA is warning everyone – children, swimmers, rock climbers, workers, hikers, and bicyclists to “Stay Out – Stay Alive.” The new safety push is warning about the dangers posed to workers and outdoors people alike. Children are being warned. Experts in the mine safety field are visiting schools. They’re going to scout groups. They’re attending meetings of organizations to talk to children about the risk.
The common perception of a mine accident is the disaster in the news. But most mine accidents happen to children and others on mining property. The program warns against accidentally trespassing on the sites, whether you’re there to work or to play.
Surface mines are popular sites for all terrain vehicle (ATV) users. The ATV drivers may find themselves caught in a deadly rollover when heaps of old leavings or stockpiles collapse beneath them.
Mine accidents are not only the disasters we read about in newspapers or see on cable news. Most of them are the less-publicized accidents happening to children, outdoors enthusiasts, and workers in fields not directly related to mining.
Since 1999, mine-related accidents have killed more than 200 people, and many of them have been children and recreational users. In addition, workers unconnected to the mining industry may fall down mineshafts or suffer accidents when they accidentally stray onto mine property.