Don’t Forget to Train the Supervisors It is safe to say that most employers are aware of the importance of training workers on drug and alcohol policies and procedures. It is not safe to say they are fully aware that it is equally important that supervisors and managers be fully trained also. Supervisors are essential to successful management of a substance free workplace because their responsibilities include doing everything possible to create a safe working environment. The front line supervisors work directly with staff and can serve as powerful motivators, promoting positive attitudes and sharing knowledge. They are the “eyes” of the D&A program, so to speak, because they are in the best position to identify staff drug and alcohol use. Supervisory responsibilities vary. They are not law enforcement agents, but they must comply with the law when managing drug and alcohol policies and procedures. An employer can quickly get into legal trouble when managers and supervisors act wrongly. For example, worker confidentiality is critical. Supervisors know which of their staff members tested positive for drugs because the workers must attend training or rehabilitation programs before returning to work. Other legal responsibilities include ensuring union contracts are followed, and carefully adhering to random testing procedures. 1 The Right Response Equally important, supervisors have to know how to appropriately respond to situations involving drugs and alcohol. A situation in which someone is using drugs or alcohol can quickly get out of control, so being able to identify potential drug or alcohol users as early as possible is good practice. 2 There are many elements to this type of training. • • • • • •
Learning to identify various outward signs of being under the influence of drugs and alcohol Recognizing behaviours indicating drug dealing may be going on or that staff is hiding illicit substances Recognizing various types of drugs and drug paraphernalia Learning to effectively deal with people in crisis due to drugs or alcohol Learning how to present information to workers concerning appropriate support programs like an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Understanding how to monitor workers returning from drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs
The outward signs of D&A use include slurred speech, frequent mistakes on the job, difficulty walking, falling asleep during work hours, excessive anger, verbal or physical abuse of co-workers, and so on. It is easy for an uninformed and untrained supervisor to mismanage a crisis situation. Workers under the influence of drugs or alcohol may act irrationally, placing everyone involved at risk. If supervisors do not know how to defuse the situation, it can quickly get out of hand or the risks of someone getting hurt are greatly increased. Exercising Power the Right Way Ultimately, the supervisors and managers are workplace monitors, but they also have the power to create an environment that minimises stress as much as possible to discourage drug and alcohol use. The importance of having trained supervisors should not be overlooked in any business. Mediscreen (mediscreen.net.au) offers onsite drug & alcohol testing support services. Professionals experienced in providing D&A services in all industries can also offer training and information sessions for managers and other staff to ensure tests are properly carried out. This article has been taken from : http://mediscreen.net.au/articles/don %E2%80%99t-forget-to-train-the-supervisors/
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