Employee drug abuse is one of the major concerns for many organizations in America today. Drug abuse at workplace impacts the organization in many ways, which includes employee tardiness, absenteeism, attitude problems, theft, crime, violence and decreased productivity. The Department of Labor estimates that workplace drug abuse costs employers around $75 to $100 billion dollars every year in the form of absenteeism, accidents, health care and workers compensation costs in the US.
A significant number of illicit drug users are employed in US. According to National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 12.9 million illicit drug abusers aged 18 years and above were employed either full or part time in US. This implies that nearly 67 percent of the total illicit drug abusers aged 18 years and above were employed. It also states that 74.4 percent of all adult binge drinkers and 74.9 percent of heavy drinkers were employed in 2009.
These alarmingly high numbers of employees abusing drugs or alcohol state that organizations are vulnerable to workplace accidents. In order to ensure a drug free workplace environment, employers should consider employee drug testing.
When are these testings conducted
An employer can conduct a testing on employees before appointing them. Employers can also conduct test on existing employees to ensure that employees remain productive at work and prevent employee drug abuse. Some good situations for an employer to conduct employee drug testing in the organization are:
During the joining time
Drug testing on employees during the time of joining is commonly used by organizations to prevent drug abusers from entering the company. Employers can use this ‘Pre-employment’ drug testing to decrease the possibility of a drug abuser being hired. It forms part of effective hiring process as it blocks drug or alcohol abusers that may become Drug marketplace future employees and cost the company in the form of amount paid towards health insurance premiums, medical treatment, or as compensation due to workplace accidents.
One of the effective ways to discourage employee drug abuse is by conducting ‘Random drug testing’ at the workplace. The main objective of a random drug testing is deterrence as it forces employees to remain drug free at all times and not just prior to appointment. Employers can test their employees on a random basis; an employee or two can be picked up in a random process and test them without giving prior intimation about the testing. On-the-job accidents can be significantly reduced with this type of testing on the employees. Today, an increasing number of organizations, which include big corporate offices, small business establishments, the military, police and fire departments, government agencies, schools etc. are conducting random drug testing.
Employers can conduct post-accident testing after an employee or employees meet with a serious accident or injury at the workplace. Generally, a post-accident testing is conducted to determine if drug or alcohol was a contributing factor in the accident. Post-accident testing protects the company from liability if the employee is under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. The company cannot be held liable for injuries sustained by the employee if he/she was intoxicated on the job.
Scheduled testing, as the name itself indicates, is conducted at preset times. It is generally conducted during routine physical examinations in the company. By conducting regular or scheduled drug testing, an employer can make the employees think twice before they use drugs as they will be aware that a drug test is coming up. This can make them take right decisions on illicit drug use.