As an employer, it is your job to ensure a safe work environment is maintained. Not only is it important to prevent injury to your employees, but it is essential you take the necessary precautions which will avoid potential lawsuits. When the question is maintaining a drug-free workplace, what kind of measures should you take? At what point does too careful become too intrusive?
When is Drug Testing Required?
While it is required for Federal Agencies, drug testing is not a mandated practice for most non-Federal employers. In fact, some state governments have strict limits on drug testing in the private sector. Be informed of state regulations before planning to conduct drug testing procedures.
Why Implement Drug Testing?
A recent report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAHMA) says users of illicit drugs are twice as likely to change jobs, skip work or fake illness, and that the majority of employees would be in favor of working for an employer who implemented drug testing. The same report, however, indicated the percentages of drug use in employed individuals are significantly lower than in those who are unemployed. While testing innocent non-offenders may seem like a “no harm, no foul” situation, implementation of drug testing can be expensive because it requires preliminary tests and confirmatory tests, and the hiring of certified medical personnel.
What If I Decide to Test My Employees?
According to Bay Area Recovery (www.bayarearecovery.com), if you decide to conduct drug tests, use care to ensure you do not infringe on your employees’ privacy rights. Again, certain states governments place certain regulations on the extent of drug testing procedures. While not conducting a drug tests can possibly lead to trouble if an employee suffered an accident on the job while under the influence, some forms of drug testing can lead to legal trouble as well. Random indiscriminate drug tests, for instance, are not legal in some states. No random drug test can really be completely “random” anyway. All employers must give some notice before administering a test, and since most of the substances that drug tests detect remain in the system a short time, some users may be able to cheat their way out. Also keep in mind that drug testing does not make a determination that someone is actually impaired; it only finds traces of a substance. Many prescription pharmaceuticals can and have yielded false positives, which would then require further confirmatory tests for those substances.
When is Drug Testing a Good Idea?
According to Bay Area Recovery (www.bayarearecovery.com), besides the sometimes gray areas drug testing presents when it comes to privacy, which can lead to legal issues, the knowledge that drug tests are conducted may make some employees feel invaded and possibly steer them away from your business. In most professions, it would be more sensible only to perform a drug test if there were reasonable suspicion for an employee’s being under the influence, i.e. he or she has displayed unusual behavior or caused a workplace accident, or some evidence of substance abuse has been found. Having said that, in any type of setting with an increased likelihood of injury, for instance, where heavy lifting or operation of machinery is required, you may be more in favor of indiscriminate drug testing in order to prevent these injuries, provided the policy is permissible under state regulations