All employers are responsible for maintaining a safe and drug-free workplace. This includes providing training to all supervisors on how to identify the signs of drug and alcohol use. This is a requirement of the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. Reasonable suspicion training for supervisors is one such type of training that is essential. This type of training is designed to help supervisors identify and respond appropriately when they suspect an employee may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
But what does that mean, exactly? What do supervisors need to know in order to fulfill their role in maintaining a safe and drug-free workplace?
Supervisors Need to Be Familiar With the Signs of Substance Use
It’s important for supervisors to be familiar with the signs and symptoms that may indicate someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These signs can include:
Slurred Speech: Slurring words or speaking slowly can be an indication that someone is impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Unusual or Erratic Behavior: An employee’s behavior may become belligerent, reckless, or uncharacteristically aggressive. This can be an indication of impairment. For example, an employee may become angry or argumentative when confronted with a task they would normally handle without issue.
Poor Concentration or Coordination: An employee may have difficulty concentrating or controlling their movements.
Bloodshot Eyes or Dilated Pupils: Bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils can be an indication of drug or alcohol use.
Inability to Remember Simple Instructions: An employee may need help remembering simple instructions or following directions accurately.
Disorientation, Confusion, or Lack of Focus: An employee may seem disoriented or confused and be unable to stay focused on tasks.
Decreased Performance: An employee’s performance may decline significantly, with no other explanation for the diminished quality of work.
Loss of Balance, Stumbling, and Clumsiness: An employee may display signs of physical impairment, such as loss of balance or stumbling.
Dilated or Constricted Pupils: Dilated or constricted pupils can also be a sign of substance use.
Strong Body Odor of Alcohol, Smoke, or Chemicals: An employee may have a strong body odor indicative of alcohol, smoke, or chemicals.
Frequent Trips to the Restroom: An employee may make frequent trips to the restroom, which can be a sign of substance use. But keep in mind that this sign can also be indicative of other medical issues.
When supervisors notice any combination of these signs, they should investigate further and determine whether reasonable suspicion exists. If it does, then the next step is to start a dialogue with the employee in order to gain more information about the situation.
The Reasonable Suspicion Interview Process
Once reasonable suspicion has been determined, the supervisor should start a conversation with the employee. This conversation is known as the “reasonable suspicion interview,” and it should be conducted in a respectful manner while allowing the employee to explain their behavior or condition. The questions asked should be focused and appropriate while also allowing the employee to give an explanation.
During this conversation, supervisors should look for signs of impairment, such as slurred speech or unsteady movements. It’s also important to remain alert for any inconsistencies in the employee’s story that could indicate substance use. In addition, supervisors should take note of any physical signs, such as dilated pupils or strong odors, which could indicate drug or alcohol use.
The reasonable suspicion interview should be conducted in a private setting where the employee will not feel threatened or intimidated. Once the conversation is complete and sufficient evidence has been gathered, the supervisor can make an informed decision about whether to take disciplinary action.
Supervisors Must Follow Established Procedures
Once it’s determined that reasonable suspicion exists, supervisors must then follow established procedures to address the issue. This typically includes informing the employee of their suspicions and providing them with an opportunity to explain their behavior or to provide evidence that there is no cause for concern. If the employee is unable to explain their behavior or provide evidence satisfactorily, then supervisors may need to take further action. This can include sending the employee home or referring them to a drug or alcohol testing program.
Supervisors Need to Know How to Document Reasonable Suspicion
It’s essential for supervisors to document instances of reasonable suspicion. This can help protect both the supervisor and the organization from potential legal liability. Documentation should include clear, concise details of the behavior that gave rise to the suspicions and any other events or observations that support those suspicions. It’s also important for supervisors to keep good records regarding any action taken or steps taken to investigate further.
Supervisors Need to Know How to Respond Appropriately
Reasonable suspicion training for supervisors should also include instruction on how to respond appropriately to situations involving suspected substance use. Supervisors need to be aware of the laws and regulations pertaining to drug testing and other disciplinary actions, as well as company policies and procedures. In addition, supervisors should understand that all employees must be treated in a respectful manner and that all conversations must be conducted in a professional and confidential setting.
Supervisors Need to Understand the Consequences Of Violating Drug-Free Workplace Policy
Reasonable suspicion training for supervisors is essential to ensure that proper procedures are followed in the workplace. Supervisors need to understand the consequences of violating drug-free workplace policies, including disciplinary action or even termination. Employers should have a clear and consistent policy on reasonable suspicion testing so supervisors know when they are allowed to request such tests from employees. This helps prevent discrimination and protects the rights of workers.
Reasonable suspicion training for supervisors is an essential part of any drug-free workplace policy. All supervisors should be trained to recognize the signs of substance use and to take appropriate action when needed. By understanding the processes and procedures associated with reasonable suspicion, supervisors can ensure that their drug-free workplace policy is adequately enforced and that their employees are safe and productive.