Drug and Alcohol Abuse Adversely Effects the Workplace
Approximately 30 million people in the United States suffer from an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and approximately seventy-five percent (75%) of these addicts are currently employed throughout the United States. There is no denying the detrimental effects drugs and alcohol have on an individual, both mentally and physically, but also the adverse effects it creates within the workplace. Drugs and alcohol impair decision-making and judgement, which can lead to workplace injuries and accidents, poor performance, decreased productivity, violence and more. Research shows that one out of six work-related accidents are a direct result of drug/alcohol use while on the job. Research also shows that once a drug free workplace policy and/or drug testing policy is in place, work-related accidents are significantly reduced.
Why Should Employers Perform Pre-Employment Drug Testing?
In the United States, less than 50 percent of all employers perform pre-employment drug testing. The main reason less than half of the business population does not conduct pre-employment drug testing is because they do not recognize the value or benefits of testing and only see testing as a burden and expensive. On average, a drug test costs an employer $45 per employee; whereas, the cost associated with the turnover of an employee averages approximately $7,000.
There are many benefits to conducting pre-employment drug testing. First and foremost, pre-employment drug testing can immediately weed out potential applicants who may be using drugs, which as a result, saves an employer time and money be eliminating a potential risk to the business. By eliminating an employee who abuses drugs and/or alcohol, a business decreases their potential to have a workplace accident, injury or conflict, which in turn reduces workers compensation claims and medical expenses. Studies show that consistently testing potential and existing employees can also decrease turnover rates, increase productivity and morale, decrease absenteeism and help reduce/prevent company theft, property damage and workplace violence.
How Does an Employer Implement a Drug Testing Policy?
Steps to implementing a pre-employment drug testing policy:
- Before conducting a drug test, employers should first establish a written policy that states when drug testing will be conducted (pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, etc.) By establishing these guidelines within the policy, employers can ensure consistency in drug testing with applicants and existing employees and avoid the possibility of discrimination claims. A recent development to note: OSHA has provided guidelines to establish reasonableness and relevancy when drug testing is associated with post-accident or post-injury incidents. Ensure your managers understand the “why and when” to test for issues directly related to workplace accidents.
- Employers should also establish what type of drugs all individuals will be tested for in the drug screen. The employer may indicate which types of drugs to test for and target the most commonly used drugs, such as marijuana, opiates and cocaine.
- Employers should also develop a written policy that outlines the process in place should an applicant or current employee test positive for drugs or alcohol. For example, in the event an applicant tests positive for drugs, he/she will not be eligible for employment and if a current employee tests positive, it is grounds for disciplinary action and/or immediate termination. These guidelines must be outlined within the policies to avoid inconsistencies with drug testing.
- All applicants and existing employees MUST be notified of newly created and/or updated drug testing policies. Individuals must be informed and agree to all drug testing prior to testing.
By creating and implementing a formal drug testing policy into a business, the business will greatly reduce, turnover, workplace accidents and injuries, Workers’ Compensation claims and medical expenses. Employers will see an increase in employee productivity and morale. Employers will eliminate many risks associated with employing an individual who is using and abusing drugs/alcohol by enforcing a drug testing policy. The value and benefits of conducting pre-employment drug testing are endless and positively affect the future of a business.
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