Factories are busy places, especially those that operate on a 24-hour production basis. Unlike office work, factory work requires that all personnel — from the factory floor staff to the managers — approach their jobs as methodically, purposefully, and focused as they can make it. One slip up, and the results could be disastrous. The products being produced could come up as defective. Worse, people could get hurt, lose a limb, or even lose their lives, what with all the heavy machinery that’s being operated all around.
Workplace accidents do happen, but the risk becomes exponentially higher when factory workers work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The thing is, workers’ drug use is a growing problem, particularly in factories in the United States.
The problem about finding qualified and drug-free people
In Minnesota, for example, there have been reports of factory owners and managers having a tough time finding employees who are not just qualified, but are also not substance abusers. As many of these employers perform drug tests on applicants before hiring them, they often end up making few hires. Considering that the drug tests cost more than $50 each, only about 20 per cent pass them. Trying to filter out drug users among candidates is also costing these small factories a lot of money.
It is quite common for small factories to spend tens of thousands of dollars on drug tests and physical examinations for newly hired workers only to end up rescinding job offers because many of them test positive for illicit drugs. Worse, there are some applicants who actually walk out right in the middle of their job interviews upon being informed they would have to undergo a drug test. It seems that finding qualified and drug-free people for factory jobs in the United States these days is becoming very tough.
Cost of not doing drug tests is higher
However, what these businesses that bemoan the cost of drug testing should realise is that the costs are positively going to get higher if they don’t screen new hires. There are far too many factory workers these days who are on one drug or another and are, more often than not, working impaired. Much of US factories’ problems regarding impaired workers is reflected in data released last year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to its report, the number of workers using illegal drugs was pegged at 14.6 million people in 2012. Because of drug abuse among workers, the report also says U.S. businesses lose $120 billion each year due to worker absenteeism, lost productivity, excessive turnover, worker injuries, and, in the case of employers who help drug-addicted employees, addiction treatment fees.
Drug testing in the workplace may be a costly proposition especially for smaller factories, but weigh that against the workplace accidents that could occur because of workers’ impairment by their drug use, and you’ll see why establishing drug and alcohol testing policies is the wiser and ultimately better choice for employers in general.