Mandatory Drug Testing In The Work Place
For many years, the United States has been involved in many wars, costing millions of dollars and the death of many people. One of the longest wars that the US is still facing is drug abuse in the work place, and a widespread strategy to combat this issue is mandatory drug testing. In September 15, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed execute order 12564, his goal was to establish a drug-free workplace. This order required all federal workers to abstain from drugs and submit to a voluntary drug test. Drug Abuse has a negative effect on the work place; therefore Drug testing should be mandatory in order to create a drug free and safe environment. This is a very controversial Topic because many will argue that resting employees violates people privacy and that it can cost a lot of money but the truth is that employees who use drugs contribute to an increase of injuries and accidents, decrease in productivity, and loss of profit. Implementing a mandatory drug testing in the workplace not only will help deter the negative effects on the work place, it will also be beneficial for all companies. Serious injuries and even death can occur during work hours if any employee is under the influence or even if they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Operating and handling machinery is a high risk without a doubt especially if a person is under the influence of any substance such as drugs or alcohol. A person who is under the influence, experiencing a hangover or withdrawal symptoms can have the same side effects such as impaired judgment, slow reflexes and they suffer from hallucinations. “The US Department of labor’s statistics indicates construction workers report the highest rates of illicit drug use at 15.6 percent” (Jean 2009). According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, “Food preparation, wait staff and bartenders reported 11.2 percent, and handlers, helpers and laborers make up 10.6 percent. Machine operators and inspectors make up 10.6 percent and the lowest rates of drug use at 3.2 percent are protective service workers (“Workplace substance abuse”). According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, employees who use drugs are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in an accident and cause injuries to themselves or others. Although some job have higher risk than others, these entire statistics are very alarming, therefore drug testing should be mandatory in order to reduce accidents and make the workplace a safe environment. Employees who use drugs or other substances not only increase accident rates, they also contribute to a decrease in productivity. Absenteeism is one of the main factors that contribute to these negative effects on the workplace. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that employees who use drugs are “2.2 times more likely to request an early dismissal or ask for a time off. They are also 2.5 more likely to have absences and 3 times more likely to be late for work” (Jean2009). This contributes to a decrease I both productivity and profit because if they are not there, the work that they are responsible for can’t be done. The US Postal Service conducted a study that indicated that employees who took a pre employment drug test and tested positive were 77 percent more likely to be fired within the first three years. They were also 66 percent more likely to be absent than others who tested negative. This only proves that Employees who use illegal drug affect the workplace due to absences and tardiness, therefore mandatory drug testing program should be implemented to prevent these problems.
According to numerous studies, The National Institute of Health reported that substance abuse does in fact have a negative effect on the work place because of the increased accidents, increase in absenteeism, and decrease in job performance productivity. All of these factors contribute to the loss of profit. “Almost 75% of the illicit drug users in the United States are employed, 6.5 percent are full-time and 8.6 percent are part-time workers (“Workplace Substance Abuse”). Problems related to substance abuse such as accidents and absenteeism can cost 81 billion dollars in lost productivity in a one year period. Since employees who use illegal drugs are 3.6 times more likely to have an accident they are also five times more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim, therefore costing a company thousands of dollars and loss of profit. The national cocaine helpline revealed through a survey that 64 percent admitted that drugs affected their job performance, 4 4percent sold drugs to other employees and 18 percent had stolen from their co workers to sustain their habit. This only show that a company has a lot to lose when employees are involved in illegal drug use, and the loss of revenue is a big issue because there are a lot of factor that contribute to profit loss. They also have to deal with theft, and drug users are more likely to steal. This is alarming because many do it to support their habits, and it can start small like from stealing a paperclip to a stack of dollar bills. Many will say that it evades people’s privacy, but only of those who have something to hide. If a constitutional right is the subject, employers have the right to know if workers are engaging in behavior that can damage a company. Other people will argue that it will cost a lot of money; truthfully covering cost of an accident, profit loss and workers compensation will be a lot more. Implementing a mandatory drug testing program in the workplace has many benefits for example in Washington D.C a small plumbing company saved 385,000 thousand dollars in one year after they established a drug testing program. Not only did they save money they also had decreased accident rates, lower workers compensation cost and lower vehicle insurance premiums. W.W Gay Mechanical contractor saved 100,000 dollars after establishing a drug free workplace programs. They also reported increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and fewer accidents. This proves that Mandatory drug testing can be beneficial to the workplace. Many will argue that it is unconstitutional, and that it invades privacy but employers have the right to know it their employees are engaging in behavior that can really damage the company. As long as Illegal drug and substances exist, the war on drugs will continue and combating its negative effects will not be an easy task. There are many people who engage in drugs and 75 percent of those people are employed and those people are the ones who contribute to an increase of accidents, loss of profit and loss of productivity. How much more are we going to lose until we deter these negative effects? Mandatory drug testing in the workplace is an effective strategy, it is better than doing nothing and fooling ourselves that it is unconstitutional and expensive.
“An Analysis of Worker Drug use and Workplace Policies and Programs.” Offfice of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S Departpemt of Health and Human Services. Rockville, MD July 1997.
elaws-drug-free workplace advisor. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/elaws/asp/drugfree/benefits/htm
Jean, D. (2009, June). The pros and cons of drug screening employees. Retrieved from http://www.lowesforpros.com/the-pros-and cons-of drug screening-employees
US Departmet of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (n.d.). Workplace substance abuse. Retrieved from website: http;//www.osha.gov/SLTC/substanceabuse/index.html