According to a recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration report, every employer in Pennsylvania has the muscle to defend against the harm that alcohol and drug abuse can cause in the work environment. The might of education and encouragement can help employees to be aware of the problems that drugs and alcohol can cause, and empower them to get help if they need it.
One nutritious program for the fight against substance abuse is the Pennsylvania Drug Free Workplace Alliance. Employers flex their muscles by unannounced drug testing and pre-hire drug screening. This program is a reflection of America’s commitment to working with contractor groups, unions and employers to protect the work environment, and promote worker health and safety.
Illicit drug use and the misuse of alcohol is the focal point of the program. The Department of labor stands behind the fact that companies end up paying, quite literally, for substance abuse in the workplace. With employee absence, accidents and costly mistakes, a needless waste of money occurs. Eliminating the problem of impairment from drugs and alcohol can improve employee morale and lower illness rates. The Occupational Safety and health Administration reports that fatal auto accidents that are work related are mostly due to alcohol or drug abuse.
Auto accidents are not the only types of accidents that relate to substance abuse. Just think about it, wouldn’t operating heavy machinery be a risky task to someone who is under the influence? Yes, of course, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recognizes the fact. So many needless accidents, lost lives, and missed workdays have occurred, and it is time to fight back.
The Pennsylvania Drug Free Workplace Program is not mandatory for every employer in Pennsylvania. Why not participate anyway? You have the muscle to take on the fight against drugs and alcohol in your company. Go for it!
Employers may have questions about Pennsylvania worker safety and how best to protect employees from injury.
Are many employees injured in the workplace?
Millions of injuries are investigated every year by the U.S. Occupational and Health Administration, also known as OSHA. When employees are injured in the workplace, they often suffer pain. In addition, time at work is missed, wages are lost, medical bills and other expenses can add up, and lawsuits may occur. Neither employers nor employees want injuries to occur, but these injuries aren’t rare.
How many injuries occurred?
The last full year for which statistics exist is 2005. In that year, a total of 4,214,200 accidents were reported across the nation. The total number of workdays lost as a result of these accidents was 1,234,700. Sadly, 5,702 employees died in workplace accidents. These numbers don’t even include injuries suffered by employees of non-profit organizations and government workers, such as firefighters, police, and paramedics.
What different types of accidents happen in the workplace?
Slips, trips, and falls are the second-most common cause of fatalities in the workplace. Only driving accidents account for more deaths. Other injuries also happen. Sprains, tears, and strains were suffered by 503,530 workers. Moreover, the total number of falls experienced in the workplace was 255,750.
What can employers do to prevent accidents?
The best way employers can prevent accidents is by educating employees. The importance of safety should be stressed with employees. They also should be taught safety techniques that will help prevent accidents.
Does OSHA provide any resources to help employers?
Yes. The OSHA Workplace Safety Pack is available to help employers stress workplace safety. The Workplace Safety Pack contains a Slips, Trips, and Falls poster, a Workstation Safety Tips poster, a Lifting Safely poster, and information on Workplace Ergonomics. Having a strong safety program is one of the best ways employers can prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace.
The Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development, better known as WIRED grants, is an initiative of the Employment and Training Administration. Under the United States Department of Labor, the Employment and Training Administration has assisted in promoting a competition for all local regions of the country to apply for grants. The grants should be used for the improvement of the regional economy, like career training and job search education. Areas with particularly high levels of unemployment can especially benefit from the grants.
What would you do with a Pennsylvania Unemployment Grant? With the opportunity to propose an idea that could require up to $5 million dollars, there are tons of things that regions can do. Anything from improving workplace or educational facilities, to programs that help prepare people for specific careers is a possibility. The first two times the WIRED grants competition was offered, 13 regions were selected. A total of 26 regions shared $260 million of government grants in response to regional proposals.
Department of Labor’s Secretary Elaine Chao announced the third WIRED grants competition recently. The governors of each state received a letter about the WIRED grant program’s third run. Each region is limited to two grant proposals of up to $5 million. This is a highly competitive grant application process, but it is certainly worth the try. All of the regions in the country are welcome to apply, and it is greatly to the benefit of the economy of any region.
Areas that have unemployment rates that are higher than the national average are particularly to benefit from the unemployment grants that the WIRED initiative has to offer. Even though the latest national unemployment statistics are generally low, there are still areas of the country where there are concentrations of unemployment that are above average. The need for job training and keeping up to speed with the changing work world and technology is the driving force behind the WIRED grants competition.
Quite a number of job-related accidents that result in illness and injury are related to drug use. One industry that is of particular concern to the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is construction. The hazards of improper handling of machinery among other things, such as falling debris are dangerous enough without the impairment of drugs of alcohol.
The Louisiana drug free workplace program launched a VPP (Voluntary Protection Program) towards the end of last year called the VPP Mobile Workforce Demonstration for Construction. This program is specifically designed for mobile construction sites. The Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Edwin Foulke, says that the program “offers construction employers with mobile construction workforces and short term projects the same opportunity for recognition that fixed-site employers receive.” He also stated that the program “recognizes those construction companies that should be held up as models of safety and health for the rest of the industry.”
Not all of the mobile construction site companies and contractors are required to participate in the program, it is optional. It is, however, to the benefit of these businesses to participate, because of the proven boost in employee morale and reduction in costs. Part of promoting a healthy and safe environment for workers is maintaining a drug free workplace. This VPP is instrumental in adding protection to employees through efforts to keep the worksite drug free. Worker deaths, injuries and illnesses have reduced for those companies that opted to take part in the program.
All VPPs have to be submitted to the OSHA for approval. They will take the time to make sure that the plan is an effective improvement to the conditions already in place. The OSHA has been approving VPPs ever since 1982. Employers and employees who show that they are making extended efforts to improve worker safety and health through Voluntary Protection Programs are officially recognized by the OSHA. High safety standards in the workplace are something that they commend.
According to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Labor, employers now have even more power to protect their businesses from drug and alcohol abuse, thanks to the expansion of a work alliance that was originally instituted in 2004.
The signing of expansion of the Pennsylvania Drug Free Workplace Alliance involved leaders from five labor unions and five contractor associations. They joined Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao at the recent signing ceremony that occurred at the US Census Bureau.
When the Drug Workplace Alliance was established, it was an unprecedented cooperative agreement between the US Dept. of Labor and construction and mining industries. Its purpose was to improve worker safety through drug abuse prevention, with a focus on substance abuse in mining and construction industries.
The alliance highlights the secretary’s commitment to working together with unions and contractor associations to create a safe and healthy workplace environment. A safe and healthy workplace environment includes addressing alcohol abuse and illegal drug use.
This is what this expansion covers. It raises awareness about the impact drugs and alcohol have in the workplace. It provides workforce development professionals with information on how they can establish drug-free programs to protect their employee’s safety. And it offers information that assists them in dealing with those with substance abuse problems.
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.”
Many members of the alliance are already taking steps to protect their workers through random drug testing and pre-employment drug screening. Other steps businesses can do to protect themselves and their workers include education about substance abuse and encouraging – or requiring — those with addictions to get help.
A few of the union leaders and contractor representatives present at the signing include the:
- Association of Union Constructors
- American Road and Transportation Builders Association
- Associated General Contractors
- International Union of Operating Engineers
- International Union of Painters and Allied Trade
- International Union of North America
Of the five unions at the signing, all are members of the alliance. Five contractors were also present at the signing.