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Under What Conditions Should You Test For Drugs?

Under What Conditions Should You Test For Drugs?

May 26, 2008

This article is the last in a short series of articles we have written on drug testing in the workplace. If you have not had the opportunity to read the previous articles, here are the titles and links.

The Six Key Elements Of A Drug Abuse Prevention Program

Drug Testing In The Workplace…Six Reasons Why Companies Do It.

Drug Testing In The Workplace – Six Reasons Why Companies Don’t Do It

When an employer decides to include drug testing in its drug abuse prevention program, it must decide under what conditions to test. Here are seven options employers may want to consider:

Job applicant testing: The drug screening of job applicants prior to employment is the most common employer drug testing practice, has the greatest deterrent effect, an is the most cost-effective. Keeping drug users out of the workforce helps avoid costly problems involving safety, productivity and absenteeism. Bill Reynolds has written a very informative article about how pre-employment drug testing can positively affect your worker’s compensation cost. It’s worth a read.

The testing of employees in safety-conscious jobs: Jobs involving the safety, health, and security of the employee, his or her co-workers, and the public, represent a compelling public interest and may warrant special employer precautions to assure that its workforce is “drug-free.”

Incident-driven drug testing: Specific incidents may trigger employer suspicions of drug abuse and warrent drug testing. Examples include a medical emergency that appears to be drug-related, the observance of drugs or drug paraphernalia at an employee’s desk or work station, or other evidence that an employee’s behavior is influenced by drugs.

Post-accident investigation drug-testing: On-the-job accidents that may involve human error often trigger drug testing of those employees involved.

Retesting of employees during and after rehabilitation: Employees who are or have participated in drug rehabilitation programs, are commonly and appropriately retested for the presence of drugs in their systems. Without random testing, successful rehabilitation may be difficult to assure.

Periodic drug testing with advance notice: Scheduled in advance, usually as part of an annual employee physical, and uniformly administered, periodic testing is common for jobs involving stress, requiring physical endurance, or involving senior-level decision making.

Random, unannounced drug tests: Random testing without pre-notification is most likely to identify drug users. However, it also is most likely to create morale problems and trigger union grievances or employee legal claims. Employers should proceed with caution before selecting this option.

If you are interested in obtaining more information about businesses and organizations that offer drug testing services, this google link offers a sizeable directory, and may be a good place to start your search.

Although not part of our drug testing series, in future articles we will present information and ideas regarding drug testing and the American with Disabilities Act, the Drug-Free Workplace Act and some special regulations involving the transportation industry.

Information courtesy of Labor and Employment Law Blog


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