August 7, 2018
Manufacturing insights

Swissturn employees given privacy to use marijuana outside of work

File photo
Ken Mandile, president of Swissturn/USA

In an industry like manufacturing in which heavy machinery and other dangerous tools are used, safety is of the utmost importance. As such, companies are keeping a close eye on the workplace as the state's adult-use marijuana law rolls out. Oxford-based Swissturn has never drug tested prospective employees. Making sure employees are sober and aren't bringing marijuana to work is now the priority rather than policing the private lives of workers, President Ken Mandile told the WBJ in an interview.

Is the company updating its drug policy at all as this new industry rolls out?

I don't think we would plan to. It would only be an issue if someone was under the influence and operating machinery at work. We're careful about screening before we hire, and we have not really had any issues in the recent past.

Were there were some problems in the past?

In the past, the drug issue was a bigger problem for us. We've overcome it by just being careful about screening for other things. We look at references, job history, stability and other things

Will Swissturn ever consider testing for marijuana?

If somebody smoked on the weekend, then it's in their system for several weeks. What's it going to tell me? That they smoked some marijuana at some time in the past. To me, that doesn't seem like important information.

I'd say alcohol is probably the bigger issue for employers. Maybe marijuana will become an issue when it becomes more available. I guess we'll deal with it when the time comes.

What's the company's drug and alcohol policy?

We've always had rules against consumption of drugs or alcohol at work or possession of it on property. Now and then, we might get some employees saying something about another. We'll talk to them, but without catching them in the act, it's hard to do anything.

When would the company consider a policy change?

If things are changing, we might change policies in the future. When we recognize that it is a problem that needs to be dealt with, we may have to make a chance. But right now, we really don't see it as a big issue.

The rules we have now have been good enough to discourage use or influence on the job.

What would you consider a problem?

As long as you're not coming to work under the influence, I think that's the issue. It's a big problem in manufacturing if someone is under the influence on the job. You're running heavy equipment and could get hurt. That's why we take it seriously if we think it's an issue.

We used to have an online screening test for personality and many were honest about their drug use. One time, someone admitted to consuming marijuana before a job interview. They didn't get a job here. That was a little much.

This interview was conducted and edited by WBJ Staff Writer Zachary Comeau.

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