This BLOG is not dedicated to medical marijuana but to drug testing in the work place….and the pros/cons of same. Drug testing is a relatively new tool in the workplace…it has been around for about 25 years and it is used to evaluate candidates for employment and to, hopefully, promote continued safety in the workplace.
Drug testing, as we know it today, did not exist prior to 1980. In 1981 there was a crash of a Navy jet on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier. It resulted in the death and injury of a number of enlisted personnel. Unfortunately, drug testing not only revealed the presence of drugs in the Nimitz’ personnel but widespread drug use in the military. After a series of investigations, President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12564 mandating a federal workplace that is drug free. Please duly note that this Executive Order was challenged all the way to the Supreme Court…
In the early 1990’s, the mandated drug testing for federal employees developed and the challenges, both legal and technical, were all successfully met, drug testing was ‘embraced’ by many non-mandated industries….especially retail and construction. To me, this is a no-brainer…retail needs pre-employment drug and alcohol testing to help protect itself from theft and construction needs it for workers’ compensation costs and employee safety….
The financial meltdown (commonly known as the Great Recession) that began in late 2007 and, officially ended somewhere in 2010 caused a number of companies to question the ROI (Return on Investment) for drug testing with some companies either doing away with their programs or not implement a drug testing program at all. These questions still persist while close to a ‘trillion’ dollars a year are lost to drug abuse in the United States alone and the benefits of drug testing to help stem these losses are consistently proven and reported.
I’m significantly aware of the fact that back in 2011 the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) funded a project to study the current opinions of Human Resources professionals and enlisted the help and encouragement of SHRM for this project. They wanted to understand why some companies do not have drug testing programs….and, frankly so do I from a pre-employment perspective.
Since early 2000, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Justice Department have followed the shift in drug use from conventional street drugs such as heroin, marijuana and cocaine to pharmaceuticals, designer drugs and synthetic drugs such as bath salts and spice. I’m so very glad that I do not have any type of chemical addiction….drugs or alcohol!!!
There are a few types of workplace drug testing:
Pre-employment: Most common usage; put in place to determine eligibility for hiring;
Post-Accident: Administered to all employs who are or may have been involved in a workplace accident;
Random Testing: Conducted on an unannounced basis using a neutral selection process and has the highest deterrence and detection impacts, a certain portion of the employee population is randomly selected periodically throughout the year;
Reasonable Suspicion Testing: Occurs when an employer has reason to believe that an employee is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol;
Follow-Up Testing: Conducted during and after an employee has been referred to an employee assistance or other rehabilitation program;
For-Cause Testing: Based on indications that an employee may have a substance abuse problem (excessive absenteeism, performance problems, dramatic mood swings, etc.);
Site Testing: Suspicion of significant drug abuse problem – based on employee complaints – at a specific work site and involves testing of all employees at that site on a one-time basis;
Baseline Testing: Conducted to establish the level of drug use at implementation of a program, this method essentially ‘cleans house’ to establish a drug-free workplace.
It has been proven in studies that there is a positive impact on at least four (4) areas of the workplace when a drug testing program is in place: productivity, attendance, workers’ compensation incidence rates and employee turnover. Productivity is an extremely difficult metric to measure but is related to attendance, accidents and employee turnover. Higher levels of absenteeism, accidents and turnover can be directly related to productivity in the workplace overall. This could be a result of a more stable workforce and employee energy directed to specific job performance. There is a definite decrease in attendance and workers’ compensation incidents when a workplace drug testing program is in place.
Did you know it costs an average of $6000.00 to $7500.00 to replace an employee… Turnover in the workforce is a costly endeavor that can be controlled by hiring a better quality of worker. One of these improved qualities is a worker that is drug free and doesn’t have drug abuse or alcoholic behaviors that often carry over to a workplace.
The most common type of workplace drug testing is Urine, lab based….there are a number of other tests available such as Urine, instant, Hair testing, Oral fluid, lab based and Oral fluid, instance test….all of which could be less expensive than Urine, lab based testing and equally as accurate…In house, instant urine tests run around $20/test and a drug test nationally is about $40, all inclusive of specimen collection, testing and services associated with the testing.
There are a number of reputed and highly respected individuals that are against workplace drug testing for the following reasons:
***Flawed Technology: The real world performance of testing is much lower than that claimed by promoters. It is suggested that testing may be adequate for rehabilitation and treatment solutions and possibly adequate for pre-employment situations, but not for dismissing employees;
***Ethical Issues: Because of the fairly simple ways that an employee can invalidate the test, drug testing must be strictly monitored. This means that the specimen must be seen leaving the body….many legal objections currently being raised in the courts about drug testing are pointing to legal requirements of prior notice, consent, due process and cause;
***Wrong Focus: Employee Assistance Programs….it is felt that if more focus was placed on helping employees ‘get their life together’ and why there is a decline in performance, it is a better approach to workplace alcohol and drug issues….
There is a general consensus that ‘the stupid, experienced drug users know how to beat the tests’….which to me, says that they are not so stupid….
An interesting fact to consider….in Australia, there is no longer a distinction between employees and employers…a term has been developed….PCBU…Person Conducting Business or Undertaking….isn’t that a wonderful concept for us to consider in the United States? Employers having just as much liability in ALL aspects of business as the employees….therefore, a comprehensive workplace drug testing program should apply to both employees and employers….
From a personal perspective, I do advocate pre-employment drug testing….I feel that this DOES insure a higher quality of employee and I do advocate Post Accident and For Cause testing….both of which can help determine whether there is a drug problem in the workplace. The jury is still out for me when it comes to random drug testing….again, if behavior is being observed and performance issues come into play and are documented then the ‘For Cause’ could cover the situation….
Please also remember that even though there are issues surrounding Workplace Drug Testing and the ethics involved, the process has been tested within the United States Judicial system in the past and it will continue to be tested going forward, however, if you have questions regarding your Workplace Drug Testing program or would like to implement a program, please contact Rosanne Bennett at 484-798-1236 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are an employee or a candidate for work and are a drug/alcohol abuser and would like to seek help, please contact your local Drug/Alcohol abuse treatment center or contact me at 484-798-1236 and I will help direct you.