Drug Testing at the Workplace
17 September, 2018
While generally, the drug addicts are considered jobless and homeless, the reality is that people belonging to some of the most respected and educated occupations are at a high risk of alcohol and drug abuse; including lawyers, doctors, engineers, and all manner of shift workers. Of the 14.8 million Americans who abuse drugs, 70 percent are employed. It is progressively becoming apparent that drug abusers are present in all sectors of society. Also, the reasons behind their abuse of drugs are complex, usually being spurred on by unrealistic hopes by employers for their workers to adapt to expanded stress and long working hours.
Ongoing advancements in medical technology have paved the way for workplace drug testing to see whether someone has recently used any kind of drug.
Most Common Drug Tests for Employment:
The majority of employers use either a 10-panel or 5-panel drug test. 10-panel drug tests screen for the following:
5-panel drug tests can detect:
- Phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust)
- THC (cannabinoids, marijuana, hash)
- Codeine, Morphine, Heroin and other opioids
Drug tests can be performed by different methods using urine, blood, mouth swabs, sweat, hair, and breath. Each method has its own limitations and advantages.
Reasons for Drug Testing:
Drug abuse at workplace creates significant health and safety hazards and can cause poor employee self-esteem and reduction in their productivity. It can also lead to extra expenditure in the form of healthcare demands, especially short-term disability claims.
Common reasons for drug testing at workplace include:
- To prevent hiring people who are involved in illegal drug abuse
- To discourage employees from abusing drugs
- To be able to recognize early and refer appropriately the employees who have drug abuse problems
- To be able to provide a safe and secure working environment to other workers and to the general public
- To comply with Federal regulations and/or State laws
Advantages of Drug Testing:
Maintaining a drug-free environment is an essential part of workplace safety. Therefore, testing at the workplace encourages a greater sense of responsibility among workers as they may cause harm to themselves or to people around them if working under the influence of some drug. Taking this step has been shown to decrease the probability of drug-related accidents at work. This also helps in reducing the chances of legal liability of the employers, especially if the damage occurred because of failure on the part of the employer to maintain a secure working setup.
According to a study from The Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice, drug use can also lead to a decrease in efficiency at work, tardiness, absenteeism, a higher turnover rate for employment. Screening randomly in the working environment can help eliminate these issues, leaving the employers with more reliable and productive employees.
It can also aid in identifying employees in need of help for their drug use as most addicts are usually deceitful and secretive. Drug testing dodges the requirement for honest self-reporting, which is exceedingly problematic when individuals have a lot to lose; for this situation, both their reputation and livelihood.
Disadvantages of Drug Testing:
There are some downsides also in testing the workers for drug use. The first and the most obvious disadvantage of drug testing is it violates people’s basic privacy. The workers may become angry and resentful for being tested.
The cost of these tests is also a big problem. The company has to shoulder its expenses since this preventive step is initiated by the company for its own benefit. Depending on the testing method being used, an employer could spend $28 to $40 per person on an average. If a company has hundreds or thousands of workers, the expenses of ongoing drug testing can be very troublesome and prohibitive.
Sometimes, the result of these tests may also turn out to be false positive which can have devastating consequences on the tested person. This may also cause legal liability to the employer, particularly when that person was terminated and later the test was found to be flawed.
Legal Status of Drug Testing at Workplace in the USA:
Under the safety and health legislation, employees are responsible for looking after their own safety and that of their other workers. So, a drug testing policy is often well justified.
Private, federal and state employees are all subject to legal workplace drug testing.
Many federal employees, such as those who work in national security, those who handle classified information, law enforcement agents, employees having the duty to protect life, property, safety and health, all are subject to drug testing. The Supreme Court has ruled that while testing for drug use does invade an employee’s privacy, it may be essential in order to protect the safety of others. Most laws of the state are also similar to that of federal laws and generally maintain the legal status of drug testing for its workers.
Many private companies also require their employees to undergo testing for health and safety concerns, to prevent any illegal activity in the workplace related to drug abuse, and to enhance their productivity.
Can you Refuse a Drug Test at Workplace?
As an employee, you can refuse to get tested for drugs at your workplace. But, if you get fired because of this refusal, you may not have a good resort. In fact, in some states, you might also be denied unemployment benefits in case you refused to undergo a drug test and got fired.
As an applicant, you may also not get the job as a result of refusing to take the drug test.
Drug abuse among the employees can be an expensive problem for the abusers themselves and for the employers as well. They can lose their jobs and may also have to compensate for any damage done while working under influence. If you are suffering from any drug use disorder and are afraid of its consequences on your personal and professional life, enroll in a good drug rehab at Indy to get back your precious life of sobriety. Addiction Rehab Centers are among the top-notch Indianapolis drug rehab centers that offer every client, an effective individual-based treatment, relapse prevention, and aftercare programs. So, if you are looking for an optimal addiction rehab center for treatment, joining drug rehab Indy could be a life changing decision.