Article date: 8/2007
In each newsletter, Working Partners® highlights a company who is operating their Drug Free Workplace the "right way". This edition’s nominee is HFI, Inc. HFI is a Tier II automotive interior trim supplier whose products ultimately supply companies such as Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru and GM. Their products are headrests, seat trim, door panels, foam products, console covers and other interior parts for automobiles. They are privately held company and the CEO is the son of the original founder who started the company as the “House of Foam” over 50 years ago. Their corporate offices are in Groveport/Obetz, with a total of over 2000 employees worldwide in Ohio, Alabama and Mexico.
Below are excerpts from an interview with HFI’s program administrator, Tony Callander.
Working Partners®: What motivated your company to work with us to develop a drug-free workplace (DFWP) program for your entire workforce?
Tony: Our company was motivated to develop a DFWP program because of the increased safety it would bring to our employees. Since we are a manufacturing company, safety is always the most important aspect of our business. Our company DFWP stand is that “Our employees are the most important investment we make” and we believe that.
WP: When you made the decision to have a DFWP program for your non-DoT mandated employees, what were your concerns/reservations?
Tony: Our concerns were how would this work? Do we have a problem and we don’t know it? Are people going to take offense to this?
WP: How have those concerns played out (i.e. Was the implementation harder? Easier? Different than what you expected?)?
Tony: Almost all of our concerns did not play out. We were able to settle all fears through solid education and training of the employees and supervisors. Essentially it went easier than I thought and except for the occasional discussion where I had to assure employees that their blood pressure medicine would not give them a positive test, we had no real issues. When we did have our first issue with a positive test it was nice to have help from Working Partners® to guide us through all the necessary steps.
Tony: We train to the 7 steps at new hire and then perform the annual refresher training in-house once a week for about a month in order to get all our employees through the training without hurting production requirements. At that same time we do the supervisor refresher trainings.
WP: Tell us what type of an effect your DFWP program has had on your company (e.g. in terms of safety, attendance, workers’ compensations, theft, etc.).
Tony: Thankfully we have had a good safety record and the program was able to keep that going, just from another aspect. The greatest effect it has had is in relation to new-hires. We find that generally we have a lot less short term employees because of the testing and we have a higher quality individual on board from the start.
WP: How has HFI’s upper management team accepted your program?
Tony: They have accepted it whole heartedly and have never had any issue with any requirement as outlined in the program. The CEO himself was recently selected on a random test, and even though he is very busy, he leapt out of his chair and was excited to see how the process all worked since we are in year 4 and he has never been tested.
WP: What are the major challenges, if any, that you have with your DFWP program?
Tony: One major challenge we have had is with employees reporting accidents late or not going for testing after an accident. We made a conscious decision when we started that we could not take exception to any situation and through both continued education and action, we have been able to limit these situations from happening. It is unfortunate sometimes, but in following the policy, skirting a test is worse than having a positive one and acting accordingly is the only way to ensure your employee’s safety and the integrity of the program.
WP: What advice do you have for companies who are just beginning their DFWP "journey?"
Tony: Follow your policy, use the definitions and don’t be afraid to act. You will always be acting in the best interest of your company and your employee’s if you follow the DFWP Program.
WP: Anything else you want to share?
Tony: Never be afraid to talk to employees about their concerns and always use it at an opportunity to assure them of their safety.