Monday, November 28, 2011

DOT Training and Reasonable Suspicion Tip 8: “Let’s wait and see.”

Here is another tip for you to consider in your DOT Training for Supervisors.
Asking for a “wait and see” approach is usually an employee’s way of asking for a 2nd chance. It basically promises that the offending behavior won’t occur again if only you’ll overlook it just this once.

It seems reasonable. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, right? What if it was one isolated screw up? You wouldn’t want to mess with someone’s job over a simple mistake, would you?

Well, there’s a problem with that. If you decide to “wait and see if it happens again” before acting on your drug testing policy, chances are you’re simply procrastinating. You’re also enabling. If injury or death on the job—or off the job—occurs, you’ll be sick with regret over why you didn’t act when you had the chance. And that may be the least of your problems. You may have also exposed you and your employer to severe legal consequences.

There’s no upside here for you. You have no guarantee from your employee that this won’t happen again. All you have are the panicked reassurances of someone who is right now very afraid of being punished. Now is not the time to put yourself in a bad spot. Right now your job is to determine whether your employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That’s it. The issue of 2nd chances is one that can be decided upon later.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DOT Training and Reasonable Suspicion Tip 7: “It’s okay, I’m back in treatment.”

Here is another tip for you to consider in your DOT Training for Supervisors .
Employees with unmanaged or untreated alcohol or drug problems frequently know more about their problem than others around them. They know exactly what they should be doing to treat their illness—but don’t.

Motivational presentations and demonstrations of sudden insight are usually manipulative in nature. They can sway unwitting supervisors from acting on the drug testing policy. Be aware that anyone who has an untreated alcohol or drug problem is desperate to avoid confronting the problem. The need to use and the short term pain of withdrawal are so overwhelming that the substance abuser will resort to actions that seem far out of character.

It doesn’t matter whether a substance abuser has never had treatment or is currently relapsing. The behavioral patterns are the same. One unfortunate side effect of treatment is that it sometimes teaches relapsed substance abusers how to “fake it” by saying the right things to convince others that there isn’t a problem.

Being in treatment doesn’t give anyone a free pass. Most drug and alcohol treatments emphasize the substance abuser’s responsibility in regaining lost trust and credibility. If you suspect an employee is under the influence of drugs and alcohol, then document and test to confirm whether or not your observations are correct. It’s the only way to be sure.

Friday, November 4, 2011

DOT Training and Reasonable Suspicion Tip 6: “Who me?! Do I look drunk to you?”

Here is another tip for you to consider in your DOT Training for Supervisors.
Maybe you can’t walk straight when you’re intoxicated, but plenty of other people can. And one of them might be your employee. An employee may be “plastered” but not show it. The only indication of intoxication may be alcohol on the breath.

Alcoholics and drug addicts who drink, characteristically has high tolerance—the ability to consume large quantities of alcohol or drugs and not appear intoxicated. An alcoholic employee with alcohol on his breath could be two to three times over the “legal” limit, but could appear unaffected.

By letting yourself be talked out of documenting and testing for intoxication, you’re being manipulated.

If you’re worried about insufficient documentation, don’t forget that if you smell alcohol, then you have sufficient reasonable suspicion to refer to testing. You’re organization’s drug testing policy is written to protect you and the organization, even if there is a false test later. So don’t back off. Even if you turn out to be wrong, you were right. You made the right call.