Drug tests have become increasingly common ever since President Reagan first mandated them for federal workplaces in 1986. However, what are the benefits of these tests, and why should you include them in your workplace? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to look at today.
One of the foremost benefits of a workplace drug testing program is preventing workplace accidents. According to the National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance, more than 74 percent of all current illegal drug users are employed and are responsible for up to 40 percent of industrial fatalities in the U.S. What’s more, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that 50 percent of all workplace accidents and 40 percent of all cases of employee theft can be attributed to drug abuse. Needless to say, those statistics are concerning. A strong workplace drug testing problem will help your company create a safer working environment for all of your employees.
Drug Testing Efficacy 2011, a poll conducted by the Society for Human Research Management and the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association found a connection between drug use and absenteeism. In simple terms, organizations with high absenteeism rates of more than 15 percent found that that number dropped dramatically after implementing drug testing programs by roughly 50 percent. The bottom line we see here is that the statistics show that drug use directly affects employee productivity.
Many state and federal laws expressly require employers to maintain drug-free workplaces. An established drug testing policy is simply complying with these laws. Should an employee be found guilty of breaking the law or harming others while under the influence, your business may be held liable for their actions. As such, these policies protect the companies from lawsuits. What’s more, drug testing can help maintain your company’s reputation as an ethical business. Otherwise, you risk harm to your reputation, causing irreparable damage in the long term.
Identify and Help Employees with Drug Problems
Pre-employment drug tests prevent active drug users from joining your business. This is a given. But what about your current employees? Drug use can start at any point in a person’s life. Just because someone passes an initial test, does not mean they will be drug-free throughout the duration of their employment. A drug testing policy that includes practices such as random drug tests or post-accident drug tests can help identify current employees with substance abuse problems. Many workplaces unfortunately simply dismiss the employee without further action under these circumstances. However, it is important to remember that this is an opportunity for an employer to help and refer their employee to programs to help solve their substance abuse.
When to Drug Test
Now that we’ve covered why you should drug test, let’s take a moment to consider when you should drug test. It is a sensitive subject. Some may even find it offensive. Nonetheless, it is necessary to find the right time. Before pursuing any of these approaches, familiarize yourself with local and federal labor laws surrounding drug testing.
This is possibly the most common time to drug test. As we’ve already discussed, employers working to build a drug-free workplace want to avoid bringing illegal drug users on as employees. They are a risk to the safety and well-being of the workplace and to your business as a whole. Ideally, this will take place after a candidate receives an offer, but before they’re onboarded with your company. Think of it as the last check in the employment process.
When an accident happens in the workplace, it’s important to know what caused it. That way you can avoid such an incident in the future. This process can include interviews and formal investigations. A drug test will help this process by determining if drug use was involved. In some cases, this may even be required – especially after an accident that resulted in death or injury.
Random drug tests help maintain a drug-free environment. It is impossible for active drug users to “time” their drug use around the tests as they are unannounced. Work out a system that truly randomizes these tests as much as possible for the best results.
It is possible to train managers and other supervisors to recognize the signs of drug use. However, this method must be used with caution to avoid abuse. The reason for suspicion should be thoroughly documented for future review. Reasonable suspicion can include, but is not limited to, slurred speech or inhibited motor functions. We offer training to employers on identifying reasonable suspicion.
The Bottom Line to Drug Testing
Drug testing in the workplace protects both your employees and your business. Your workplace may benefit in safety, productivity, and morale from implementing a drug testing policy. To ensure that your policy complies with all applicable laws, please consult your attorney. When you’re ready to implement your policy, we can help.