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Despite the numerous safety protocols implemented by employers in the workplace, a large number of workplace accidents are caused by substance abusers. After all, more than two-thirds of all illicit drug users in the United States are employed either full-time or part-time, as per the data made available by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Often, workers with drug problems do not realize the fact they pose a grave danger to their co-workers and the general public. Therefore, it is important that employers institute workplace drug testing policies in order to prevent workplace accidents. With an effective employee drug testing policy, employers can also reduce workers’ compensation incidence rates and associated costs of workplace drug abuse resulting from loss of productivity, sick leaves, healthcare costs, etc.
The most common drug testing methods include the following:
- Urine testing
- Blood testing
- Mouth swab testing
- Hair follicle testing
- Sweat testing
Filter Out Drug Users during Hiring Stage with Pre-Employment Drug Testing
The best way to create a safe work environment is to prevent drug users from joining your workforce. Your company can conduct pre-employment drug testing when hiring new workers. This will help filter out candidates with have used illicit drugs in the recent past. Some drug tests can detect drug use even if it happened several months ago.
In most cases, illicit drug users will not even consider applying for a vacant position at your company if you actively advertise the fact that you carry out pre-employment drug screening.
Prevent Workplace Accidents with Drug Testing Based on Reasonable Suspicion
A critical safety measure, drug testing based on reasonable suspicion can help identify workers who may be impaired on the job due to alcohol or drug abuse. A drug test helps ascertain if an employee had consumed illicit drugs while at work or before coming to work. This way, even workers who relapsed recently or started abusing drugs after having joined a company, can be identified.
The effectiveness of ‘reasonable suspicion drug testing’ depends on how well your supervisors are trained in identifying the potential signs of workplace drug abuse. Supervisors who are not trained in spotting personality changes, physical signs, etc. will rarely confront a worker suspected of being under the influence of drugs when on the job.
Introduce Post-Accident Drug Testing to Discourage Workplace Drug Abuse
According to a clarification issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in October 2018, post-accident drug testing is permissible as long as employers conduct it to promote workplace safety and health.
Employers would, however, violate the law in case a post-incident drug test is conducted in retaliation to a worker reporting a work-related illness or injury.
Post-accident drug testing helps determine if an employee injured or involved in a workplace accident was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When employers actively promote the fact that they conduct post-incident drug testing, workers in safety-sensitive positions including those operating heavy machinery such as forklifts, cranes, etc. or bus drivers, tend to mend their ways if they had been using illicit substances or alcohol in the past.
Prevent Workplace Accidents with Random Drug Testing
Most employers opt for either random drug testing or periodic drug testing.
Random drug testing helps keep employee drug screening costs under control while effectively discouraging workplace drug abuse. Employees need not drug test ‘all’ their employees but only a small set of employees from time to time. These tests are performed on a random set of employees. In some states, it may be necessary to issue an advance notice to the employees before a random drug test is conducted.
Employers should make sure that they do not target a specific employee or a group of workers for random drug testing. The ‘random set’ should either be generated by a software program or an independent third-party agency.