Drug Testing by Employers

by Petrone Risk

Implementing a procedure for drug testing is important for employers to have. Often, the test is the final step of the screening process after the hiring decision has been made. The reasons organizations should test their employees for drugs range from regulatory requirements to customer-service priorities. Federal or state regulations require employees to submit to mandatory testing in certain industries.

Drug testing can also provide safety. The concentration and judgment of an employee can be inhibited by drug or alcohol impairment thereby exposing them and their coworkers to injury risks. Health issues caused by drug use, lead to costly problems such as an increase of absenteeism, an unhealthy workplace and sometimes low morale within the company. These problems can cost employers more money paid for sick days, higher insurance costs, employee retraining and leave them with less overall output.

The process of testing varies by organization and company. For municipal governments, there are federal and state laws that require them to randomly drug test their employees who are required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Municipalities have CDL testing under the federal rules for employees who drive certain trucks or other large vehicles impacting highway, public works, or parks and recreation departments.

Most private employers have the right to test for a wide variety of substances even though drug testing is not required under the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. Generally in the private sector, non-union companies can require employees to take drug tests, so long as they are in compliance with applicable state or local law.

Not-for-profit organizations should screen their employees and volunteers to ensure the safety of those they serve. Many work with children, elderly or the disabled so a drug screening can result in a safer and more productive workforce.

Drug testing costs are an issue for employers. Organizations may be hesitant to implement drug screening because they view it as a voluntary measure that negatively affects the bottom line. Just because they might think there is no viable return on investment for drug testing, does not mean they aren’t beneficial. Employers who do not leverage drug testing face the risk of higher turnover, decreased productivity, and a greater number of workers’ compensation claims.

Be sure to consider screening employees for drug use before hiring them. It can preemptively save your business money as well as keeping it secure from related health risks, among others. Drug testing employees might seem excessive to some, but the benefits will definitely outweigh the cost. By implementing drug testing or screening for employees, it will result in a more productive and safer workplace environment for everyone.

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