The Effectiveness of Drug Testing in the Workplace

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Is Drug Testing in the Workplace Truly Effective
in Keeping Employees Drug Free?
In the field of Human Resources, employees are considered the most valuable resource. The job of a human resources representative is to find the best qualified person for the position. There are many forms of pre-employment testing that corporations use. Some use aptitude tests or other forms of intelligence testing, but more and more companies are now requiring a passing drug analysis as a condition for hire as well. Most employers now utilize a urinalysis, hair sample or oral swabs as detection for substance abuse. Drug testing in the workplace certainly holds most employees to a higher standard as far as their life outside of work. However, there are millions of employees who are flying below the radar and continuing with the lifestyle that they have known regardless of workplace drug testing or not. The Drug Free Workplace Act was passed in 1988 with the intentions on providing a safe and healthy workplace for all employees. The Federal Registers (1988, 2000) report release from the National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance states that the Drug Free Workplace Act requires compliance by all organizations contracting with any U.S. Federal Agency involving contracts of $100,000 or more. These contracts do not include the acquirement of commercial goods through a procurement contract or purchase agreement, and must be performed in whole in the United States. The Act also requires all organizations receiving federal grants, regardless of the amount to be in compliance and that all individual contractors and grant recipients, regardless of the value of the contract or grant meet the terms of the law. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2000), there are an estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs on a daily basis. Out of those 14.8 million, 77 percent are employed, leaving 9.4 million people under the influence while on the job. Government studies reported by Charles P. Cozic (1998) show that among these drug abusers, there are 6.5 million regular marijuana users and 1.25 million habitual cocaine users occupying our workforce. These numbers are astounding especially considering that these employees are actually becoming an expense to their employers, rather than an asset. The SAMHSA (2000) reports that these alcohol and drug abusing workers function at only about 67 percent and are costing the companies that employ them nearly $81 billion in lost productivity per year. The Operational Heath and Safety Services (2004) reports that the cost of one drug test is between $25 and $65 depending on the volume of testing done by the company along with the type of testing. Considering these facts, a company’s choice to test an employee for drugs or alcohol is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount a substance-abusing worker can eventually cost them. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (2008) has recently conducted studies that compare substance abusing to non-substance abusing employees. The facts they provide state that the substance-abusing employees are more likely to change jobs frequently, have higher absenteeism, be less productive, be involved in a workplace accident and file a workers’ compensation claim. Relating to workplace accidents, the SAMHSA (2000) reports that 40 percent of industrial deaths and 47 percent of work-related injuries are a direct result of alcoholism. Some workers argue the fact that drug testing is an invasion of privacy and a disloyalty to the value of a good worker. Jennifer Hurley (1999) composed an article about employee drug testing being “Unconstitutional and Ineffective”. The article specifically concentrates on The American Civil Liberties Union, and how it is dedicated to protecting the rights of employees and is a defendant to drug testing being a violation of Civil Rights under the U.S. Constitution. The ACLU also states that drug analysis’ is an...
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