Drug testing, which Raben Tire Co. Inc. implemented in October 2001, has become a key part of the company's efforts to reduce work-related injuries and costs.
``It was a hard process to get going; it was a big change for us,'' said Ryan Brown, director of risk management and fleet operations for the Evansville, Ind.-based company.
``Not that (drug use) was something that we condoned; it was something that we had never really addressed,'' he said, noting that no particular incident prompted Raben Tire to begin drug testing.
The company implemented first a post-loss urine test to determine whether a worker involved in an accident was under the influence of drugs at the time. Employees who were suspected of being impaired at work-even if no accident had occurred-also were tested.
The tests revealed that ``there was some drug use,'' Mr. Brown said. The fact that ``we had that element in our shop was scary. It was something that really raised everyone's eyebrows.''
A year after the first tests were implemented, random drug testing of all employees was introduced, Mr. Brown said. ``And since then, we have progressed to pre-employment testing.''
And in the most recent change to the program, Raben Tire began in September 2004 using a hair follicle drug test in addition to the urine test on prospective and existing workers as another layer of protection.
Kevin Newman, Louisville, Ky.-based senior loss prevention consultant with Liberty Mutual Group Inc., Raben Tire's workers' comp insurer, said introducing the hair test was an ``exceptional'' risk management move that shows Mr. Brown's commitment to hiring clean workers and keeping drugs out of the workplace.
If a worker is found to be using drugs, Raben Tire ``has an understanding policy in the fact that we provide help for them,'' Mr. Brown said. The company covers the cost of substance abuse counseling and treatment.
Workers found to be using drugs a second time, however, are terminated.
Because the company has a ``high threshold on the front end'' in the form of drug testing that candidates must pass before they are hired, Raben Tire has not had many workers' drug tests turn up positive, Mr. Brown said.