By | Leon Reingold
In many jurisdictions around the globe, drug testing is mandatory for some employers while others have considerable latitude in deciding whether they want to drug test their workers or not. While a law firm may assume it cannot possibly have drug abusers in its workforce, a trucking company may drug test each one of its drivers every month.
There are numerous arguments against and in favor of mandatory drug testing in the workplace. It’s an endless debate but the business community cannot deny the fact that workplace drug abuse is on the rise. Here in this post, we will discuss why drug testing should be mandatory in the workplace.
Majority of Addicts Are Employed
Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of drug addicts are not criminals, homeless, or unemployed. According to the findings of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 70% of all people with drug problems in the United States, were employed either part-time or full-time in the year 2011. In other words, workers with drug problems are likely to be employed across all industry sectors.
Workplace drug testing is the most effective way to systematically identify such workers from time to time.
Employees with Drug Problems Are Costly In Many Ways
Addiction costs businesses and organizations across the world billions of dollars in lost profit every year. In the United States, for instance, addiction costs employers an average of $81 billion dollars per year.
Businesses incur such huge costs due to:
- Productivity losses due to reduced performance and absenteeism
- Reduction in quality of work
- High turnover rate
- Thefts in the workplace
- Additional healthcare burden
- Disability claims
- Compensation paid for occupational injuries and fatalities
Pre-employment, periodic, and random drug testing can help businesses and organizations save a great deal of money.
Safeguard the Company Reputation
Managers and Supervisors cannot be Mind Readers
Managers and supervisors can at best observe a few noticeable signs of workplace drug abuse if but they cannot be mind readers.
Employers may also train managers and supervisors on recognizing and documenting signs of substance abuse but such a strategy is effective only if complemented by drug tests.
Whether a company employs a few dozen or thousands of employees at multiple locations, the management or people in leadership roles cannot possibly know when a worker is onto something.
Drug testing helps eliminate guesswork and provides highly accurate data on drug abuse in the workplace.
Deter Drug Abuse
Once an organization introduces an effective drug testing policy and actively promotes the fact that drug abuse won’t be tolerated, it is likely to deter workers from getting hooked onto drugs.
Some workers with drug problems may try to mend their ways and others with friends who use drugs will not entertain the thought of experimenting with drugs.
Drug screening also helps deter rehabilitated drug users from relapsing again.
Promote Safety in the Workplace
When a worker is under the influence of drugs, s/he is likely to have impaired judgment and slow reaction times.
Such a worker lacks the ability to make rational decisions; s/he can subject customers, co-workers, and the general public to unsafe environments or circumstances that can cause injuries or even fatalities. Workplace accidents can be more serious especially when a worker with drug problems is behind the wheel of a forklift, truck, or school bus.
Safety is a serious concern in industries such as construction, mining, manufacturing, transport, etc. An organization that employs people in safety-sensitive roles can make post-accident drug testing mandatory to create a safer workplace.
Once workers know they would be drug tested if they are involved in accidents and stand to lose workers’ compensation as well, they are likely to stop using drugs before coming to work or while on-the-job.
The HR department can follow standard guidelines for creating a drug-free workplace and play a pivotal role in the process.
Workers who interact with customers are considered the face of a business entity. This holds true especially for companies operating in sectors such as retail, healthcare, hospitality, food services, etc. Such companies need to make sure that their customer support staff, sales representatives, security guards, guides, waiters, or anyone else who interacts with customers isn’t under the influence of drugs. Developing a drug screening policy is a positive step in that direction.
A drug testing policy should be applied consistently and fairly to all, in order to boost employee morale and encourage positive behavior. Drug testing programs should be supplemented by organization-wide campaigns that sensitize workers about the perils of drug abuse. When possible, employers should also consider offering treatment options to test positive employees. When employers facilitate treatment for drug addiction, it is known to help reduce absenteeism and productivity issues.
I am writing to introduce myself as Leon Reingold. I am the Editor-in-Chief at Drugtestsinbulk, a nationwide supplier of drug and alcohol testing products online.