Drug Testing

Why should we care about workplace drug testing, and why should we discuss the issue more often?

Because it has an impact on performance and productivity, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).[i] It seems that many of the arguments put forth by proponents of drug testing in professional sports can also hold true in the mainstream workplace.

First and foremost is the argument that employees are individuals compensated for their performance, so the expectation on the part of corporations is that employees will bring their “A game” every time they report for work, whether it’s on a playing field or behind a desk. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, drug abuse costs American industries over $190 billion annually.[ii] Employee drug abuse causes as much as 50% of all on-the-job accidents and up to 40% of employee theft. In addition, drug abusing employees are absent ten times more frequently than non-users, and the turnover rate for drug-abusing employees is 30% higher than clean employees.

And experts say that effective drug-testing initiatives present opportunities to employers. Beyond compliance with drug-free workplace policies and initiatives, SAMHSA says that testing, as part of a well-run drug free workplace policy, can reap benefits in the forms of increased productivity, profits, customer satisfaction, employee health status and morale. Moreover, workplace drug testing can contribute to lowered incidences of absenteeism, turnover, accidents and injuries and the accompanying downtime, and Workers’ Compensation costs.[iii]

Many employers are already on track: even though most U.S. employers are not required by law to drug-test employees, many companies already have drug-screening policies and almost all of those with a program say that pre-employment testing is the most common type of screening performed.

Most companies that screen employees for drugs do so prior to hire. Some test when there is “reasonable suspicion” of drug use, some test following an employee accident, and others do random testing.

Among companies that do pre-employment drug screening, most require that the test be conducted within four days of the applicant’s acceptance of a position, although others allow it to be done at any time before the new employee’s start date.

For more information about how you can add a drug screening program to your workplace contact Tim Landsberger at 651-644-3880, or email him attal@mcdowellagency.com.