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Drug Testing At Work Place

According to the federal government estimates companies lose $82 billion in productivity each year because of substance abuse. Now, a growing number of employers are fighting back with workplace drug programs.

Is it really needed to test at work places?

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, more than two thirds of individuals who report using or abusing drugs and alcohol are employed...50 percent full time and about half of them part time.

The cost by drug abusive employers in industry is estimated at over one hundred billion dollars a year. Three quarters of this cost is due to lost employment and reduced productivity and about 25 percent is due to medical costs and the cost of treatment for addiction.

Drug users are almost four times as likely to be involved in a workplace accident as sober workers and five times as likely to file a workers’ compensation claim, according to government data. Drug users miss more days of work, show up late and change jobs more often. The cost of a drug test, meanwhile, is usually less than $50.

Is Drug Testing at Work Place Legal?

If you plan to use alcohol and drug testing as a part of a workplace substance abuse policy, there are many legal issues that must first be addressed.

Drug testing -and particularly random drug testing is not allowed in every state in the U.S. Before proceeding with such a policy, a company needs to check with its state Department of Labor for current laws. Even if such testing is allowed, and employees are found to be using drugs and alcohol, employers may find their options are limited in how they can respond.

Advantages of Drug Testing At Work Places

There are four advantages of drug testing at work.

1. Safety: There is concern that an individual who is impaired by alcohol or drugs is an increased safety risk to him or herself, coworkers and/or the public. This may be of particular concern where employees have safety-critical functions. This is true, for example, of air traffic controllers, train drivers, ambulance drivers, pilots, bus drivers, miners and quarry workers.

2. Organizational efficiency: it is believed that the use of alcohol and drugs can be a causeof low productivity, absenteeism and high staff turnover. It is further assumed that drug testing can reduce the number of working days that are lost through staff absence, increase productivity and reduce the costs of recruiting and training new employees.

3. Reputational risk: some employers are concerned about the damage that they believe can be caused to the reputations of their organisation as a result of alcohol and drug use among their workforce. The use of illegal drugs by employees will be a particularly sensitive issue in some professions, such as the police force and the prison service.

4 Employee welfare: it has been suggested that drug testing can help to improve the health and welfare of the workforce by deterring drug use and by helping to identify staff who have problems. These individuals can be encouraged to seek help by their employers and supported in their efforts to address their substance misuse problems.

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