Drug testing is essential for companies in industries where employee safety is paramount. However, many employees resent having to periodically or randomly submit to a drug test and feel it violates their privacy.
Fortunately, occupational health professionals can help develop drug testing policies compliant with state and federal regulations. Here are some reasons employers should consider including pre-employment drug tests.
Avoid Employment Risks
Drug testing is essential for businesses that rely on employees to work safely and effectively. It can help reduce accidents, injuries, and workers’ compensation claims. Moreover, it has the potential to enhance productivity and boost morale while also ensuring adherence to industry regulations.
Moreover, it can prevent crime and protect business assets. Employees who are on illegal drugs may be a risk to themselves and others, and they can also negatively affect workplace productivity by calling in sick more frequently or engaging in unsafe practices.
Many companies require employees to pass a pre-employment drug test before signing an employment contract or commencing work in safety-sensitive positions. In certain states, employers can perform drug tests on employees without warning if there is reasonable suspicion of drug use or involvement in a workplace accident or incident.
The benefits of pre-employment drug testing are clear, and research supports the efficacy of these programs. However, it is essential to note that these studies have been conducted on small samples of applicants and are not representative of the general population at large.
Moreover, these studies have not examined whether drug testing results influence job performance. Furthermore, the analytical methods of many drug-testing programs introduce sources of error that are expected to reduce their effectiveness. The bottom line is that requiring pre-employment drug testing can effectively mitigate risks in safety-sensitive industries.
Protect the Company from Liability
Drug testing can help employers avoid employment risks like workplace accidents. These accidents can lead to costly workers’ compensation claims and public relations nightmares, whether at a factory, an office, or a job site. Employees impaired by drugs or alcohol may have slower reactions and impaired judgment, increasing the risk of accidents.
For this reason, many companies in safety-sensitive industries, including transportation and construction, include drug testing as part of their hiring process. They may also require routine, random, and reasonable suspicion drug tests of employees to ensure they’re not using illicit substances.
A drug test typically involves submitting biological samples for chemical analysis, such as urine, saliva, sweat, hair, or blood. These tests can identify different substances, such as illicit drugs, certain prescription drugs, and alcohol. The most common form of drug testing involves screening for a few specific drugs, such as amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, and opiates.
Other forms of drug testing involve submitting an individual to a more extensive screening, which can detect many more substances, including some synthetic or designer drugs. These tests can be more expensive, but they’re often worth the investment for a company concerned about liability.
For this reason, many employers choose to conduct a full panel drug test before making a job offer or to conduct periodic, random, and reasonable suspicion tests of current employees.
Protect the Employees’ Health and Safety
Drug testing helps to prevent employees from using drugs that can negatively affect job performance. This is particularly important in safety-sensitive industries since employees under the influence can cause accidents that put others at risk. They may also be more likely to commit workplace crimes and call in sick regularly. This can be disruptive to the business and hurt productivity.
Employers who choose to implement a drug test program know that it will benefit them in the long run by helping to create a positive and productive work environment. They also understand that having an effective drug testing program can help protect the company from potential legal liability.
In addition to pre-employment drug screening, some companies conduct periodic and return-to-duty testing. This can be done after an employee shows signs of possible drug abuse or returns to work after a substance abuse treatment program. The drug tests used for this purpose can be 10-panel or other tests that look for specific substances.
Reasonable suspicion testing can be conducted when there is a strong belief that an employee is abusing drugs or alcohol. This can be based on physical symptoms like slurred speech or an unsteady walk, behavioral symptoms such as a decline in performance and withdrawal from interaction with coworkers, or a history of substance abuse.
Protect the Company’s Morale
Employees who use drugs can cost a company money. They miss work and are often less productive, increasing operating costs. Moreover, they can risk the business’s reputation by creating a poor work environment and causing customer dissatisfaction. In some cases, employees may even be responsible for workplace accidents. These accidents can also lead to costly workers’ compensation claims and legal battles that can drain a company’s finances.
By implementing a drug-testing program, you can deter potential employees who use drugs from applying for jobs with your company. This is particularly important in safety-sensitive industries, such as construction and transportation. Additionally, your workers will be safer and more efficient if they do not use drugs.
However, many employees resent workplace drug testing, especially when tested randomly or for no apparent reason. They see it as an invasion of their privacy, indicating that the company does not trust them. This can harm morale, leading to an inability to perform their duties, leading to disciplinary actions or termination. In such cases, the company must find new workers, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, a drug-testing program must be incorporated into a company’s policies early in hiring to inform employees of its importance.