Drug Testing in the Workplace

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Drug Testing in the Workplace:

A Costly Mistake


The issue of drug testing in the workplace has sparked an ongoing debate among management. There are many who feel that it is essential to prevent risks to the greater public caused by substance abuse while on the job. However, others believe that the costs far outweigh the benefits and that it is an invasion of privacy. Putting all ethical issues aside, evidence presented in this paper supports the latter. The costs of drug testing are excessive and only a small percentage of employees are actually found to be substance users. Drug testing in the work place has a negative effect on productivity; contrary to what was originally intended. It actually decreases productivity instead of improving it. Drug testing causes a feeling of distrust and drug testing should not be a part of a healthy work environment.


In today's workplace, drug testing has become a controversial matter. Every employer, regardless of industry or profession, must decide which way to position themselves and their company. There are many who feel that drug testing in the workplace is an invasion of privacy. On the other side, however, are those who believe that in today's workplace drug testing may not be popular, but it is vital to a successful business. These individuals point out that in positions where public and personal safety is concerned; the safety of the public supersedes any other issue. This holds true in the case of air line pilots, bus drivers and health care professionals, to name a few. The end result employee drug testing includes a safer working environment, increased productivity, and better product integrity so that the business (or organization) may see greater financial profits and also improve its image. The evidence suggests however, that there has been a decline in the use of drug testing by companies as of late. This would conclude that drug testing programs did not meet these expectations. This paper will support the idea that drug testing in the work place does not increase productivity, and that it costs more money than it saves for those businesses. Discussion

One of the issues in favor of the anti-drug testing position is that sometimes persons are falsely accused due to poor testing methods or unreliability of those tests. Tests which measure impairment and alertness are the methods most commonly cited as unreliable. According to an article appearing in Business Week Magazine (1991), companies that use a test known as "Factor 2000" are finding that drug and alcohol use are not the most common reasons for failure. Fatigue and illness are the most common reasons for failure, not substance abuse. Lewis Maltby (1986) of the Drexelbrook Controls Company clarifies this by stating that drug testing does not tell whether an employee is impaired, but it does tell whether they have a substance problem. It is very hard to find evidence that positively identifies poor performance due to drug use. There are too many variables involved to pinpoint the exact reason, but labeling it as a drug related problem is not only incorrect, but is a dangerous assumption. The results of a drug test should not be used to assess job performance. Another issue to bolster the anti-drug testing argument is timing. The results of a drug test can never determine the precise timing of the drug in question. Giving the example of the drug marijuana, if a user smokes marijuana on a Friday night, a drug test will show up positive weeks later. This implies that even though they may test positive, the effects of the drug have long worn off, and will not impair the employee in any way. Therefore they can not be held responsible for something they had done in the privacy of their own home, an that which will have no impact on their work. A similar example of another drug, cocaine, yields entirely different results. If an individual uses cocaine right before...
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