July 9, 2019
Why Drug Testing in the Workplace is Important

It’s not uncommon nowadays to see companies that require drug testing. For some, it’s simply a drug test that is required as part of the application process. For others, it’s an ongoing requirement of employment. Is drug testing really necessary? Who does it protect and is it worth the cost?  Here’s why drug testing in the workplace is important.

What is drug testing?

Drug testing is an effective action that an employer can take to determine if employees or job applicants are using drugs of any kind. It can identify evidence of recent use of prescriptions drugs, illicit drugs or alcohol. Currently, drug testing does not test for impairment or whether a person’s behavior is or was impacted by drugs or alcohol.

How can employers implement a drug testing program?

A written drug-free workplace policy is the foundation of an effective program. Verbiage reflecting the needs of your workplace and applicable laws is a key part of a successful drug-free workplace program. Be sure to customize it to your organization as applicable. According to SAMHSA, there are many reasons to put the drug-free workplace policy in writing:

  • A written policy may be required by law or by the organization’s insurance carriers.
  • A written policy makes legal review possible.
  • A written policy provides a record of the organization’s efforts and a reference if the policy is challenged. It might protect the employer from certain kinds of claims by employees.
  • A written policy is easier to explain to employees, supervisors, and others.
  • Putting the policy in writing helps employers and employees concentrate on important policy information.

Companies need to take into account drug-free workplace laws when creating policies. Companies may also want to consider an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide help for employees who may have a drug or alcohol problem.

Why do employers drug test?

Employers typical require drug testing for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Deter drug or alcohol abuse in its employees
  • Prevent hiring new employees who abuse drugs
  • Have the ability to identify drug or alcohol issues early in employees and offer help options
  • Provide a safe environment for employees
  • Protect the general public from circumstances arising from employee drug or alcohol abuse
  • Comply with state or federal laws
  • Benefit from Workers’ Compensation Premium Discount programs
  • To protect against costs associated with employees using drugs or alcohol

According to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, American businesses lose $140 billion a year to drug use.

Is drug use in the workplace really an issue?

It is!  Here are a few statistics to illustrate why it’s such an issue:

  • According to the U.S. Department of Justice, over half of all workplace accidents are caused by employee drug use.
  • There is a 30% higher turnover rate when you compare drug-using employees to sober employees.
  • Employees who use drugs are also five times more likely to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Drug testing protects both the employer, and the employee, not to mention potentially protecting customers and the public at large, depending on the kind of job an employee holds.

How can companies get their employees drug tested?

There are several reputable health and recovery companies that offer custom drug testing. When choosing a company that can assist with employee drug testing, ideally look for one that offers a more substantial drug panel test to ensure all potential drug or alcohol use is uncovered. The variety of drugs nowadays, both legal and illegal, require a more in-depth test than the typical 5-panel drug test. Also look for a company that offers the option of a more in-depth toxicology report that can help retain the integrity of all related drugs tests, including mouth swabs and urine samples, to ensure they all came from the same individual.

More and more employers are testing current employees through random programs. According to a national survey conducted by the Hazelden Foundation, more than sixty percent of adults know people who have gone to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Companies simply cannot afford NOT to have a drug testing program. Drug testing in the workplace is important to ensure the safety of all individuals.