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New State Law: Drugs, Alcohol, and Construction Sites Don’t Mix

April 3, 2008

Charleston, WV - Drugs, alcohol, and construction sites could be a lethal combination. So, at a ceremony today, the Governor Manchin will sign a new drug-free worksite law. It will require companies that bid on state construction contracts to have drug and alcohol testing and prevention programs in place.

Sam Davis, business manager for the Parkersburg-Marietta Building Trades Council, predicts the law will make construction sites better places for all workers. He says passing the legislation was a joint effort of labor unions, contractors, business owners, and government agencies.

"I really believe it's a worthwhile effort on everyone's part. I really do think it'll make work sites a lot safer."

It's also a proactive move for the industry in West Virginia. Last year, a U.S. Health and Human Services study found rising rates of workplace drug and alcohol abuse nationwide, and cited construction as the field with the second highest substance abuse rates compared to other occupations. Davis says the new law is not just about drug testing; that safety education is an important part of the effort.

"We have alcohol and drug awareness classes; we also have courses on being able to recognize if someone is using an illegal substance."

Davis explains the law is modeled on programs already in place in Parkersburg and other areas of the state. The law goes into effect June 1.

Rob Ferrett/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - WV