Many employers are starting to implement workplace drug testing programs, but are they really necessary? If the results of a number of studies are to be believed, the answer to that question is a big yes. Here are some of the reasons why workplace drug testing is necessary.
Most drug users are employed
Several studies have discovered that more than 70 per cent of drug users are employed, which is alarming enough as it is. With the possibility that one or more of your employees use or abuse drugs on a regular basis, it is your responsibility as employer to ensure the health and safety of everyone in your workforce. Conducting workplace drug tests is one way of doing just that, as it identifies possibly impaired workers before workplace accidents happen.
Drug abuse causes half of workplace accidents
Data obtained by the US Department of Justice says that drug abuse causes as much as 50% of workplace accidents. This is not surprising, as illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ice, and ecstasy and even legal substances such as alcohol and prescription medication can impair a worker’s ability to do any job. This is most especially true of workers who are tasked with driving company vehicles or operating heavy machinery. With workplace drug testing, employers will be able to avoid workplace accidents that cause injuries and in some cases, deaths in the workplace.
Employers lose billions annually due to drug abuse
The figures may vary, but practically all studies on the cost of drug abuse to industry are one in saying that employers lose billions of dollars annually. When workplace accidents happen, workers who suffer injuries are entitled to workers’ compensation, which could end up to be downright costly for the employer. Employees who abuse drugs are also more likely to have health issues, effectively driving up the company’s health care costs. Making it worse is the fact that drug abuse takes a toll on productivity. Drug-abusing workers tend to engage in absenteeism and have difficulty focusing on their work. Their work performance takes a dive, eventually leading to low productivity.
Reminders for employers who plan to implement drug testing
An employer will be able to largely avoid the problems enumerated above once drug and alcohol testing policies are already in place. If you’re an employer and you plan to implement workplace drug testing, there are a number of things you need to remember.
Any workplace drug testing program should be applicable to everyone in the company, from top management to the rank and file employees. There should be no exceptions whatsoever.
The administration of the drug tests should also be completely random. According to industry experts, drug tests just aren’t effective when the method does not include random administration. To ensure complete randomness, selection of participants should be done with the help of computer software programs. This way, all workers stand an equal chance of being picked for random drug testing, and the employer’s risk of being accused of singling anyone out is significantly reduced.
Most importantly, all workplace drug tests and the subsequent results should be held in the strictest of confidence. The issue of privacy is one of the main talking points of those opposed to drug testing in the workplace, and you wouldn’t be doing yourself a favour if the process is not as confidential as you can make it. Only parties who have a “need to know” should be aware of the results.