The U.S. Department of Labor and four international labor unions have formed an alliance to improve worker health and safety through drug-free workplace programs.

Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao signed the alliance agreement with the International Union of Operating Engineers; the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America; the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers; and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.

The alliance is the DOL’s first cooperative agreement focusing solely on drug-free workplace issues.

DOL agencies involved in the effort include Working Partners for an Alcohol- and Drug-Free Workplace program, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and OSHA. The agencies work with the four unions to provide their members and the construction industry with information, guidance and training resources to communicate the benefits of drug-free workplaces. The organizations will focus on educating workers on safety hazards created by the abuse of alcohol and other drugs in workplaces and mines.

Findings of the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 77 percent of the nation's adults who have alcohol- or drug-abuse or dependence problems are employed either full- or part-time. In addition, a 1998 Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis showed that as many as 20 percent of toxicology screens following workplace fatalities tested positive for drugs and/or alcohol.

Said Chao: “Through this agreement, we are pledging to work together to reduce the serious hazards posed by substance abuse at work. By working cooperatively on this problem, we can improve the safety of America's workplaces and mines.”