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Effectiveness of Drug Testing in the Workplace

Effectiveness of Drug Testing in the Workplace

The fact that drug testing is required by law in many countries doesn’t undermine the fact that drug testing in the workplace is highly desirable and recommendable. The process reveals a lot and prevents possible injury, property damage, and negligence lawsuits. Of course, you need to conduct these tests cautiously to ensure their effectiveness.

There are a lot of drugs out there

North America is just one part of the world that is swept by the fentanyl drug epidemic. The drug is several times more potent than heroin, which is just a testimony to the range of drugs available on the streets.

Of course, alcohol abuse or overdosing with over-the-counter medication is also a common problem in the workplace. Recently, people have become addicted to social networks as well (not something you can physically test), adding to the complexity of the problem.

How to spot drug abuse

Although there are specialized courses that your HR team members should attend whenever possible, there are a couple of tell-tale signs of substance abuse. To begin with, you will notice how a worker’s level of motivation drops significantly.

This is soon followed by decreased productivity and/or open altercations with their colleagues. Once an individual starts making blunders or they fail to show up for work, you need to intervene. If you are lucky that the problematic worker is reasonable and responsible enough, a simple talk should sort things out.

However, if they are in denial, then you need to face them with physical evidence of their addiction.

Whom to test and when?

One of the biggest dilemmas employers face is whether to test the entire workforce of single out individual workers. The former method is the most efficient but it’s expensive. On the other side, it’s quite affordable to order two or three tests but then these employees might think you are singing them out for no good reason and they might sue you for mobbing.

The best tactic is to sign a contract with a medical facility that does your workers’ annual health checkup and include quality drug testing kits as part of the regular examination process. This way, you will be able to afford massive testing, yet leave the option to test problematic individuals when you have sufficient probable cause.

What kinds of tests exist?

Drug testing is a pretty broad term that encompasses various lab analyses suited for every kind of drug imaginable. There are saliva drug tests, urine drug tests, alcohol breathalyzers, etc. The best drug test kits are the ones that are the least invasive, i.e. ones that cause the least amount of discomfort for the test subject. On the other side, the company drug policy needs to be strict in the sense that it doesn’t tolerate if someone tries to pass someone else’s urine or stool sample as their own.

What if the employer plays dead?

We are sorry to say but there are employers who falsely believe that drug testing in the workplace isn’t necessary, as the problem will go away on its own. Such a stance is overoptimistic, as ignoring the problem will only make matters worse.

Inside an office environment, this might not be as tragic but just imagine what could occur if you run a trucking business and a driver shows up for work inebriated! The importance of drug testing is several times more important in high-risk workplaces than it is for office jobs, such as IT or accounting.

A company policy

If you wish to efficiently implement drug testing policies in your firm, then you need to turn your attention to pre-employment screening. First of all, prospective workers should undergo a general medical exam before they sign a work contract.

Furthermore, they should be let known that the management has zero-tolerance for substance abuse in the workplace. Not only can they count on getting degraded and their pay reduced but they risk getting fired, as clearly stated in the contract of employment.

Legal implications

As stated in the introduction, if one of your employees is involved in an accident in which drug abuse was a factor, your company, the injured party can sue your firm. Having a strict substance abuse policy and following it to the letter will help the judge decide in your favour.

When applied properly and regularly, drug testing minimizes the risk of injury in the workplace. The safer the work environment, the greater the chances of attracting talented and responsible employees.

About the Author

Stella Ryne

Stella Ryne is an art historian, social media manager, conscious consumer and a proud mother. When she is not trying to improve the things around her (and herself, for that matter), she likes to lose herself in a good book. Stay in touch with Stella via Twitter and  Facebook.

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