Article date: 11/2007
Several week’s ago, Working Partners® was in a conversation with Mr. Royal Morse, President of The Dealers Lumber Company. At that time, he shared some pretty profound information about his company’s drug-free workplace “journey.” Royal shared during that initial conversation that their accident rate had dropped by 70 percent since instituting their drug-free workplace program. When asked how much of that decrease he thought they could attribute to being drug-free, Mr. Morse asserted, without hesitation, “One hundred percent!”
Intrigued by this claim, we were anxious to hear more. The following is an interview that Working Partners® conducted with Mr. Morse:
Working Partners®: Tell us about what motivated your company to work with Working Partners® to develop a drug-free workplace (DFWP) program?
Mr. Morse: Primarily, the growing number of on-the-job accidents we had seen in recent years. Luckily, all but one or two were very minor, but it seemed that some of them arose from someone just being careless. We wanted to raise the level of safety awareness in our company, decrease the number of injuries, improve the quality of our workforce, and provide a safer working environment for everyone. We looked at the DFWP as a perfect way of setting the tone for safety as a primary goal, and raising the bar for all of our employees. And – don’t get me wrong – we needed the discount the DFWP afforded us as well.
Working Partners®: When and how did you roll out/implement your new DFWP program?
Mr. Morse: We began the process of looking for a provider in August of 2005, and it was apparent to us very quickly that Working Partners® was just what we were looking for. We wanted a one-stop shop; we don’t have the luxury of having a full-time HR person, so as company president I wear that hat along with several others.
Once I underwent the policy development training, I felt it best to allow the pros to handle the employee for our employees. They can make it so much more vital, so much more interesting with anecdotes, real-life examples, etc., and I wanted to make this a “big-deal” in the eyes of our employees. We announced the program in late January 2006, with meetings in late February 2006. Our “go” date was March 1, 2006, and it has been (thankfully!) relatively smooth sailing since then.
We also let the pros of Working Partners® handle our on-going education and training. They don’t miss a trick. I know we’ve done our due diligence, and if someone has a problem it’s often easier to approach a stranger than it is the boss.
Working Partners®: How was your new DFWP program received by your employees? What about your supervisors?
Mr. Morse: When we announced the program we had some grumbling, some acceptance and some outright defiance. But in the end, everyone attended the education sessions and we got signatures (on the policy receipt forms) from all who attended. Frankly, we lost some employees in the first year that I thought might have been marginal; I believe we have a stronger work force today because of it. A few of the supervisors have had some doubts, but I think they’re coming around as they see the accident rate decline.
Working Partners®: Tell us what type of an effect your DFWP program has had on your company in terms of safety, attendance, workers’ compensations, theft, etc.
Mr. Morse: The single biggest impact has come in reportable injury accidents. In 2005, we reported 15; in 2006, after implementing the DFWP on March 1, we had just five. I am very happy to say that we have had none since Sept. 14, 2006. Can we attribute this improvement solely to DFWP? I think so. The heightened concentration throughout the company on safety as a primary function is paying great dividends.
We have also weeded out some that I thought were bad actors. We had one new hire, in fact, who we sent down for a drug test and who apparently kept right on driving; he never showed at the test site. That saved us from making what could have been a huge hiring mistake.
Working Partners®: What are the major challenges, if any, that you have with your DFWP program?
Mr. Morse: Always – ALWAYS – getting the details right. We have an obligation to our government, our owners, and especially our employees to be sure we’re fair and equitable on the details on every single occasion. While that’s our biggest challenge, it’s also the easiest part of the program; Working Partners®, People Resources, and our consortium partners are there to support us every step of the way. If you seek help, you can’t fail; it’s that simple.
Working Partners®: What advice do you have for companies who are just beginning their DFWP “journey?”
Mr. Morse: Call 614-337-8200. Do it now. You’ll have a better workforce, fewer injuries, and you’ll sleep better knowing that you may well be helping some of your employees become better husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers ... We have had two employees who have come forward and admitted that they had substance abuse problems, and sought help on their own through People Resources. These are two lives – and all of their attendant loved ones – who might not have ever improved had we not implemented this program. That alone is worth the price of admission.
If you care about your people – and in a small business I don’t know how you can operate and not – then do them, and you, a huge favor and seek out this program now. It’s hard work, but the rewards are great.
The Dealer’s Lumber Company, located in Columbus, Ohio, has been providing quality home-building products to Central Ohio since 1920. According to their website, they are dedicated “to delivering traditional personalized service for our customers” and have as their motto to “Do it once ... Do it Right!”
Please join us in congratulating Dealer’s Lumber for “doing it right” with their drug-free workplace program!!!