blog-lg-photo01The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, had its 25th anniversary of enactment on November 18, 2013.

The law was enacted by Congress in the context of two highly publicized events at the time – (1) the January 4, 1987 headlong fatal crash of a Conrail train (operated by a drug-abusing conductor who tested positive for four of the five drugs he was tested for and was “toking up” at the moment of impact) into an Amtrak passenger train in Chase, Maryland; and (2) the June 19, 1986 accidental overdose death of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias the day after he signed a huge contract with the Boston Celtics as the #2 player taken in the NBA draft.

The DFWA was watered down, and had only minimal requirements for most federal government contractors and grantees, but it did create a useful and important focus on drug abuse as a workplace issue, a focus which helped later usher in the law requiring U.S. Department of Transportation regulations which, among other things, require random drug and alcohol testing for more than 10 million employees in private-sector, transportation-related, safety-sensitive jobs.