If you have looked for a job recently, you probably noticed that many employers require a drug test. Some require a drug test only before employment, but many ask employees to sign a contract agreeing to undergo regular drug screening. There are some important ways that this testing protects employers, their employees, and the community.
- Is there really a need for drug tests in the workplace? According to a recent survey on urine drug test results, almost 75% of the adult users of illicit drug in the United States are employed. Their drug use is costing American businesses about $81 billion dollars every year. Government studies show that as many as one in six employed individuals has a drug abuse issue. This is not only a problem for businesses, but also for other employees. Drug abusers are absent from work about 20 times more often than those who do not use drugs, which can create chaos in the workplace and, in some working situations, even an unsafe working environment.
- How does a drug test work? There are several types of drug testing and alcohol testing available. A urine drug test is the most accurate when screening for drug use that has occurred within five days. Sometimes, drug testing involves a hair follicle test. This test is able to detect drug use within the previous 90 days, and the five-panel hair follicle drug test can detect the presence of marijuana, opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, and phencyclidine. Breathalyzers are frequently used to test for alcohol use.
- What are the benefits of regular drug testing in the workplace?
- Drug testing helps the community. The entire community, including businesses, is responsible to help fight against drugs. Drug testing in the workplace sends a message to drug users that employment will be difficult to obtain and reinforces the message that they must get help for their substance abuse problem. More importantly, those who are considering trying an illicit drug maybe warned off from doing so by the prospect of being unable to hold down a job. When a drug test is administered regularly in the workplace, this also helps to keep drugs out of the immediate area.
- The drug test protects other employees and customers. Drug use in the workplace is not a victimless, personal issue. People who are using drugs or drinking alcohol at work put the lives of other employees, as well as customers, at risk. This is especially true for any job that requires an employee to drive or to use heavy machinery. It is the employer’s responsibility to keep his workers safe, as well as customers who come into the place of business. Random drug tests are a great way to do this.
- A drug test lowers health costs for everyone. When someone at work has a substance abuse problem, the possibility that someone will be hurt in an accident goes up. However, regular drug testing can help with health costs in other ways, too. Health insurance companies will often give better deals and lower premiums to people who work for companies that regularly conduct a drug test to screen their workers. Also, federal law mandates that if someone is injured on the job and tests positive for either drug or alcohol use when they were injured, they’re not entitled to any worker’s compensation benefits. This means an injured worker could end up with thousands of dollars in medical bills they are personally responsible for.
- Drug testing protects the company. People are simply not as productive when they have been drinking or taking drugs. Illicit drugs affect the judgment and reaction times, inspiring people to take risks that they would not otherwise take. Encouraging employees not to do drugs either at home or at work not only protects them but also ensures that the company’s employees are at their best when working
It’s up to each business to decide whether to drug test in their workplace or not. But perhaps every business should, for the good of the community, the good of its employees, and even for its own bottom line.