Workplace Drug Testing BLOG

“The safety of the people shall be the highest law."

– Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher born in 106 BC

Workplace drug testing - Why is it important?


Workplace drug testing allows employers to make the best hiring decisions possible. Pre-employment drug testing is commonly used as part of the screening process along with a standard background check.

Due to the increase of drug-related incidents in the workplace, many companies now view the implementation of a workplace drug testing program as mandatory to avoid future problems (including loss of revenue, or lawsuits). Find out why you should implement a drug testing program if you aren't convinced yet.



Reasons for Workplace Drug Testing

Workplace drug testing is being implemented by companies for the following reasons:

To Protect the Employees and Its Customers

Employees who may be working under the influence of drugs or alcohol may pose a danger upon themselves, fellow employees and the general public. Aside from the possible accidents that can occur – especially those employees who are working on heavy machinery – any wrong decision could bring huge problems for the company.

To Maintain Productivity

Employees who are into alcohol or drug use have a higher possibility of frequently being unable to report for work. If they ever find the opportunity to push themselves to report for work, they may not be as productive as usual due to drowsiness or lack of coordination.

To Decrease Health Care Costs

Companies suffer from having to pay workers’ compensation when an employee suffers an accident at work. Therefore, some companies would deny coverage of any injury when the use of illicit drugs or alcohol comes into play.

To Help the Community

Companies can do their part in addressing drug problems in their community by way of implementing workplace drug testing. The fight against drug abuse and addiction is not something that only the government can solve; everyone in the community has a role to play.

To Hopefully Prevent Drug Use

When applicants or employees are aware that the company supports a drug-free workplace, they are more likely to stop using illegal drugs. Otherwise, they may find themselves applying for employment elsewhere.

To Help Rehabilitate Employees

Workplace drug testing is part of a comprehensive drug program that companies implement to provide assistance to employees who are found to be positive for drugs or alcohol tests. By conducting workplace drug testing within the boundaries of a company drug policy, employees who are found using drugs may be referred to specialists who will help them in the treatment and recovery process.

In Compliance with State Laws or Federal Regulations

Some jobs require the clearance of workplace drug testing, especially those who are working in critical and safety-sensitive industries, such as aviation, transportation, and mining.

Popular Workplace Drug Testing Options

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What Employees Should Expect in Workplace Drug Testing

Some employees may deem workplace drug testing unnecessary and an invasion of privacy. However, when approached with a different perspective, employees should realize that workplace drug testing is not done for the sake of the company alone, but rather for the safety of all employees.

The Drug Testing Index determines the status of drug users among employees. Despite the steady decline in rates of drug use in past years, employee drug use is starting to pick up again, particularly marijuana use. This should cause alarm for both employers and employees, as a rising trend in drug use increases the likelihood of accidents and injuries in the workplace.

A drug-free workplace policy should clearly indicate that workplace drug testing may be conducted in different situations, which include the following:

  1. Pre-employment Drug Testing

Companies are now keener in ensuring that all prospective employees are free from any alcohol or drug problems that may interfere with the quality of work. Apart from the job interview and background check, pre-employment drug testing is now included in the hiring process.

  1. Random Drug Testing

Upon the discretion of employers, random drug screening may be conducted on workers who have been under strict performance evaluation. Results of the drug test may be used by the employer as basis for referring employees to drug treatment specialists.

Employers are allowed to carry out random testing on employees. However, singling out a particular employee may be discriminatory unless, it is justified by the nature of the job.

Searches may also be done, but this should be stated in the policy signed by the employee. Searches should be carried out by the same sex only and should take place in the presence of a witness.

  1. Return-to-work Drug Testing

All employees who are tested positive for drugs, should undergo therapy and treatment. The employer may only allow the employee to go back to the job when a return-to-work drug test produces a negative result. Otherwise, the employee will be denied reporting for work or may be terminated.

"Tomorrow: your reward for working safely today."

— Robert Pelton

Post-Accident Drug Testing – When it is implemented?

Most companies require applicants to agree to future random drug testing prior to employment. With a surging number of accidents and injuries, employees must undergo post-accident drug testing as well.

While some people may be in favor of workplace drug testing, other raised the issue as a perfect example of violating a person’s rights. One of the main concerns of those who are involved with drug abuse, is the fear of being “branded” or “marked” for life once proven to be positive for drugs.

According to OSHA in an August 2016 release, mandatory drug testing should no longer be implemented, unless a workplace injury may have been caused by drug abuse of an employee. The drug testing policy is necessary for every company, but the thought of random drug testing is regarded as invasion of privacy.

If the illness or injury was less likely caused by drug use of an employee, or if the drug testing was based on some instances in the past, requiring an employee to undergo drug testing, should not be done.

OSHA emphasizes that post-injury drug testing should be limited to those who are likely to have been impaired using a drug. It is of importance to be able to establish criteria prior to requiring a drug test to be performed by an injured employee.

Employers who are required to undergo tests as a requirement of the state or federal law, should continue to be subjected to drug testing as stated in the OSHA ruling. Employers who refuse to comply, will face penalties for each violation. The penalty ranges from $12,000 per violation to $120,000 for repeated violations.