Drug Testing in the Workplace

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Drug Testing Policies in the Workplace

Drug testing has become a very big issue for many companies. Approximately eighty-one percent of companies in the United States administer drug testing to their employees. Of these, seventy-seven percent of companies test employees prior to employment. Even with the commonality of drug testing, it is still a practice that is generally limited to larger corporations which have the financial stability, as well as the human resources to effectively carry out a drug testing program. In the United States, it is suggested that as many as 70 percent of drug users are employed. Now this is a huge chunk, but as a result of drug testing, these big corporations have a significantly lower percentage of the employed drug users on their workforce. Inversely, medium to smaller companies tend to have more. United States companies, who employ more than five hundred workers, employ only 1.3 percent of the employed drug users, while medium size companies, employing only twenty-five to five hundred employees, have 43 percent of the employed drug users on their payroll, and smaller companies, with fewer than twenty-five employees, provide jobs for the remaining 44 percent.

Now, why is it important for companies to perform drug tests? First, drug users are a third less productive than the average employee, and tend to take more sick days. They are almost four times more likely to cause an on the job accident and injure themselves as well as someone else. They are also five times more likely to injure themselves outside of the workplace, which in turn affects both performance and attendance. Now I'm sure almost everyone can attest to the fact that drugs, including alcohol can cause some serious injuries. A study by the United States Postal Service found that "…substance abusers, when compared to their non-substance abusing co-workers, are involved in 55 percent more accidents, and sustain 85 percent more on-the-job injuries" (Why Drug Test). Another study conducted by the National Council reports that "80 percent of those injured in ‘serious' drug-related accidents at work are not the drug abusing employees but non-using co-workers and others" (Why Drug Test). All of these facts relate back to the general duty of the employers to provide a safe work environment for all of their employees. Companies also want to create a safe, productive work environment in order to maximize profits. Therefore, it is definitely not in a company's best interest to employ drug users.

Another benefit to drug testing for employers relates to insurance companies. Workers compensation claims can also be directly related to employees who are regular drug users. Some states are offering as much as a five to eight percent discount for companies that implement a drug testing program and provide the insurance companies with a written policy which requires pre-employment drug testing, testing in cases of reasonable suspicion, and post accident screening. Other states offer discount and do not even require that a written agreement be presented. This leads directly into the different testing categories that companies can conduct

There are different testing categories, and each comes under its own legal questioning. The first and by far the most common type of drug testing is pre-employment testing. This usually takes place when a company has decided to hire an employee, but makes that prospective employee pass a drug test before any sort of employment agreement is settled. Second, there is random drug testing that can involve two different policies. The first, simply being that random employees names are picked to undergo the testing. The second requiring all employees to take a drug test on a random day that can either be pre-announced or not. For example, my high school conducted drug testing on random students and on random days in a month. The third type of testing allows employers to test...
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