Shell Canada implemented an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in 1980 with its roots founded in remedial counselling and treatment services for substance misuse, as well as facilitation of entry to community services for employees and family members with personal and psychosocial problems. In Canada, barriers to accessing community counselling and treatment services still exist for a variety of reasons, in spite of universal medicare coverage since the 1960's. Reasons for this, from an employer's perspective, will be discussed.
As the 1980's unfolded, use of the EAP by both employees and dependents increased, through both voluntary self referral and more formal management (mandatory) referral. Training at all levels of the company became an important aspect of the EAP providing education on behavioral issues which affect performance, illness (and absence from work), and safety. In 1989, an alcohol and drug policy was introduced into the company which included urine drug testing "for cause." The policy reinforced the need for education about substance misuse to employees and supervisors. It highlighted both employee (and peer) responsibility in recognizing and dealing with substance misuse, as well as the company's determination to take a stand on the importance of safety while showing compassion in facilitating employee use of EAP services to correct substance misuse problems. Driving forces for such policies in Canada will be discussed, and the components of a successful approach to an A & D policy.
A third generation initiative for programs of this type is in organizational remedial and preventive services, such as in the area of stress. Forces which drive this, as well as the types of programs (both reactive and proactive) will be reviewed, including emotional safety initiatives aimed at issues surrounding the "human error" component in accident/incident causation. Finally, volunteer peer referral agent mechanisms will be discussed.