It is shocking, but it’s true: contrary to the stereotype, about seventy percent of all drug and alcohol abusers hold a job. Studies show just how prevalent substance abuse is in the workplace, and how costly the consequences of this are. Drunken weedzy.co.uk/ and drug-affected employees cause forty percent of all on the job injuries, and cost employers up to hundred billion dollars a year in lost time, health care, and workers’ compensation costs. That’s seven thousand dollars per each drunken and drug-affected worker annually!
It’s not surprising, therefore, that drug and alcohol testing in the workplace is becoming more commonplace, especially in some safety-conscious industries. Besides those industries which are heavily regulated by the government, such as transport, nuclear energy, or military contracting, testing all employees for drug use is a requirement for those businesses that receive federal funds.
Small businesses are also recognizing the importance of a drug-free workplace: not only as a hedge against increasing costs – because of the decreased productivity, and higher workers’ compensation insurance premiums – but as a mean to provide safety of their employees and customers, and avoid potential negligence lawsuits. Construction workers, sales personnel, food preparation staff, bartenders, waiters, laborers and machine operators are among those workers who have the highest rates of illicit drug use.
Employers are widening the scope of drug and alcohol testing, starting with pre-employment testing, and then moving on to random or annual testing, post-incident, and reasonable suspicion testing. Pre-employment drug testing is done as part of the hiring process, after a job offer has been made, but before the applicant is added to the payroll. Reasonable suspicion testing is done only if the employer has a valid reason to request it, such as when the appearance or behavior of a worker indicates drug and alcohol abuse. Post-incident testing is done after an incident if there is evidence suggesting that an employee responsible for the accident was under the influence.
There are several types of tests used to test for drugs and alcohol, but the most common ones include screening of urine. Basic testing typically screens for cannabinoids, amphetamines, cocaine, opiates and phencyclidine (PCP). Extended testing screens for ethanol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, hallucinogens and inhalants. The most frequently detected illicit drug in workplace drug testing is cannabis. Employers can’t force employees to take and pass a drug test, but they can in turn refuse to hire, terminate employment or demote an employee, as well as deny unemployment, disability, and workers’ compensation benefits.