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Oct-23-2006 10:25printcomments

Salem, Keizer Chambers of Commerce Sign Up For Drug-Free Workplace Initiative

The drug-free workplace initiative is an element of the Oregon Business Plan, a 12-point strategy that state business leaders have crafted to strengthen the state’s commerce, payrolls and economy. DHS provides funding and staff support.

Drug testing
Programs involve testing bodily fluids of employees to determine whether they use illegal drugs
Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy

(SALEM) - A statewide initiative aimed at tripling the number of Oregon employers who adopt and enforce drug-free workplace policies by the end of 2008 is adding seven more communities as pilot sites.

The Oregon Department of Human Services initiative is adding two Portland business organizations and the chambers of commerce of Astoria-Warrenton, Cannon Beach, Keizer, McMinnville, Salem and Seaside.

Already participating in the effort, managed on contract by the Tualatin-based nonprofit Workdrugfree, were the Bend, Klamath County and Prineville-Crook County chambers.

“These business organizations see first-hand the harmful consequences of addiction,” said Karen Wheeler, DHS addictions policy manager. “By ensuring their workplaces are drug free, they are saying they care about customer safety, workforce quality and promoting the well-being of employees, families and communities.”

Mimi Bushman, who manages Workdrugfree as a program of the Oregon Nurses Foundation, said participating chambers will receive technical assistance to write drug-free workplace policies, train supervisors, join employee assistance programs and receive reduced rates on employee drug testing.

“Becoming a drug-free workplace will cost the small employer less than $500 initially,” Bushman said, “and that cost should be more than offset by reducing employee absenteeism, accidents and other costly risks resulting from employee drug use.”

In their applications, the business groups said they wanted to build on the work already being done by businesses and others locally. The McMinnville chamber said 73 percent of businesses responding to a survey reported having drug-free policies in place, 42 percent said they test new employees and 25 percent conduct random testing, yet many employers need training to successfully implement policies.

The Portland application, submitted by the Portland Drug-Safe Workplace Advisory Board and the Portland Business Alliance, said businesses there have been working on the issue since 1987, that two 2005 drug forums were sold out and that drug use is an “issue of critical importance to business competitiveness.”

The three Clatsop County chambers and the Salem and Keizer chambers said they would collaborate as regional projects.

Among previously named sites, the Bend chamber has offered two company policy-writing workshops and a supervisor training; Klamath County chamber has conducted a survey of 500 businesses that expressed interest in drug-free assistance; and the Prineville-Crook County chamber will launch a four-part effort Nov. 3. Meanwhile, the Oregon Employment Department will conduct an employer survey this fall for Workdrugfree.

Bringing the share of drug-free workplaces to 75 percent statewide would triple the percentage reported in 2003.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Matt Johnson May 10, 2008 12:36 pm (Pacific time)

What is wrong with people, thinking they should do this for the insurance companies, FREEDOM KILLERS! Why don't you think about liberty? So many people in Keizer smoke marijuana and fear the law, people in high, important places too. They are your friends and relatives who are good people and would only be in trouble because of the stupid PEE testing.

mary a wilson/altantic city workforc February 27, 2008 9:01 am (Pacific time)

please send myself copy of leeter to address provided for you already on file with your office. @ p.o. box 272 pennsville,n.j. 08070 935-

Henry Ruark October 23, 2006 11:11 am (Pacific time)

Oregon business, including corporate structure some of which is world-leading, is far more progressive than most persons is the other small-group that messes up the soup...but we can do something about that soon, at the same time we weed out the cult-confrontation-is-all Legislative denizens, too.

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