GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – Grand Falls-Windsor council has approved a new policy on substance abuse and fitness for duty.
According to the policy: “The Town of Grand Falls-Windsor recognizes that employees who use or are impaired by drugs or alcohol while performing work endanger not only themselves, but their co-workers and others affected by the work.
“The Town of Grand Falls-Windsor’s policy with regard to such conduct is one of zero tolerance.”
While no particular incident led to the town implementing this new policy, the intention is to use it to address any incidents that may occur in the future, Mayor Barry Manuel told the Advertiser.
“We wanted to make sure people are taking responsibility for reporting to work in a responsible manner, and this is something we felt should be in place,” he said.
Although the town will not conduct random drug testing for employees, there are other ways to determine if someone is under the influence on the job.
“If there was suspicion for whatever activity the person may be involved in – it could be something you would smell, something in their actions or in their speech – just any kind of suspicion by a manager, supervisor or co-worker can be reported,” said Manuel.
“It would be investigated, and the procedures would follow from there based on the policy.”
All employees are required to come to work fit for duty and take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of themselves and others at the workplace at all times.
While on duty, workers must refrain from using or being impaired by alcohol or drugs; possessing, purchasing, selling, distributing or engaging in any other conduct involving alcohol or illegal substances or paraphernalia; or misusing or being impaired by prescription or non-prescription drugs.
The mayor said the policy is meant to ensure a safe workplace.
“We are always stressing a safe and healthy workplace, so that’s a big part of it,” he said. “You want to make sure that people are sober and (when) they’re coming to work are in good condition to be carrying out the duties that are assigned to them.
“Whether that’s out mowing grass or driving a plow or working on equipment at the shop – it’s important that people are not under the influence of any kind of drugs or alcohol when they’re carrying out those sorts of duties,” said Manuel.
Employees must notify supervisors if they suspect a co-worker is unfit for duty.
According to the policy, “fit for duty” means a physical and mental state that allows an individual to perform his or her job duties safely and effectively without impairment due to the use of or after-effects of alcohol, illegal drugs, legal medications or other health conditions.
The Town of Grand Falls-Windsor recognizes that drug or alcohol addiction is a serious health problem, said the mayor.
The intent of the policy is to “accomplish the health and safety goal in a manner that is fair, humane and consistent with employees’ accommodation rights under discrimination laws.
“The ultimate goal is not to punish but help employees identify and get help for their substance abuse issues, so they can return to work healthy, safe, happy and productive,” the policy states.
While the town reserves the right to discipline, it is also prepared to help affected employees get the counselling, treatment, rehabilitation and support they need to overcome any problems.
The town encourages employees with substance abuse problems to step forward and request help voluntarily, said Maneul. By doing so employees will not be subject to discipline, as long as they have complied with their obligation to be fit for duty under the policy.
The new policy will affect all town employees including full-time, part-time, temporary and contract employees; independent contractors; volunteers; and employees of third-party contractors or subcontractors engaged to perform work at town facilities.