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Construction firm Elford Inc. uses drug testing to improve workplace safety

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The concepts of safety and a drug-free workplace are intertwined at Columbus, Ohio-based commercial construction company Elford Inc.

The company began its drug-testing program in 1992, said Colleen Rains, Elford's director of human resources.

“We were an early adopter because we knew it was the right thing to do,” Ms. Rains said, noting that the program has three primary goals. “One purpose is to provide a safe workplace for employees, subcontractors and visitors. Another is to have a productive workforce. Lastly, we want to provide helping services for anybody who raises their hand, voluntarily or involuntarily, that wants to be clean and sober.”

Accordingly, the 160-employee company drugs tests every employee in the first two weeks of employment and also uses post-accident reasonable suspicion testing.

“Some places choose to only put certain parts of their workforce in a drug-free workplace program, but everybody in our organization from the CEO to college interns are subject to this program,” she said.

Elford's program follows Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration protocols and test for separate substances, Ms. Rains said, noting that the company uses a medical review officer that takes a look at any test result that has any narcotic.

For example, the review officer can help the company confirm whether use of a prescription drug is legitimate, she said.

“If the employee has a prescription and a level in their system that corresponds to the correct dose, the company will get a negative test result,” she said. “However, if the individual is taking somebody else's meds or overusing that drug, the MRO (medical review officer) will report a positive result.”

The company's drug-testing program contributed to a safer work environment, Ms. Rains said, noting that Elford won a first place National Construction Safety Excellence Award in 2013 from The Associated General Contractors of America.