Drug testing of potential employees is a commonsense and proven strategy for protecting yourself and your business from theft, injuries, lawsuits, and endless personnel problems. Ignoring it or deciding you don’t want the expense of paying for testing is short-sighted in the extreme.
A Universal Problem
It’s been said that drug addiction is the worst kind of terrorist because no one is safe from it. Once a person is addicted to drugs, recovery can be a life-long process. The damage inflicted by addiction extends beyond the person addicted to their family, friends, and co-workers.
SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) is the U.S. agency tasked with leading the fight to improve America’s behavioral health. Here are just of few of the highlights from the SAMHSA 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- (B)24.6 million Americans were estimated to current users of illicit drugs. Current meant they had used drugs with the past 30 days. Drugs in the survey ran the gamut from marijuana to heroin to hallucinogens to abuse of prescription drugs.
- Marijuana was the most common drug used. 80% of those surveyed were users.
- These numbers had remained consistent for several years, indicating that the problem wasn’t going away.
The numbers from the CDC (the Center for Disease Control) were just as bad.
- Someone dies in an alcohol-related crash every 51 minutes across the United States.
- The annual cost of such crashes is estimated at $59 billion per year. [Emphasis added]
- Every day in America, 44 people die from an overdose of prescription drugs.
- (B)The number of deaths from misusing over overdosing on prescription drugs rose 2-and-a-half times from 2001 to 2013.
Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation bear witness to these facts. The number of drug and alcohol-related accidents has risen consistently, with only minor drops, every year going back decades.
This is a problem that’s here to stay, and many of these people are coming to work already under the influence or using while they’re on the job. Drug and alcohol-related accidents are one of the leading causes of workplace injuries. Worse, far too often the person injured at work isn’t the person who is using, but someone else who had the bad luck to be around them when a drug-related accident happened.
The result is lost productivity, lawsuits, and families disrupted or torn apart by hospital stays and funerals, not to mention the pain and suffering of the person who was injured.
These grim statistics have given rise drug test facilities and companies around the country. In order to protect yourself and your business, you need to establish a firm policy in regards to testing before you begin testing anyone or requiring them to be tested. A written policy will help protect your company when (not if, but when) accusations of bias or discrimination are made against you.
Sorry to be so gloomy but this is the reality we face.
A Policy Outline
Your written policy should include the following points. Consult an attorney to make sure you have the correct wording.
- Pre-employment testing. You should require all new hires to undergo a drug test prior to any offer of employment. Apply it across the board, especially to people you know or are friends with. This will further insulate you in case of a lawsuit since it shows you haven’t played favorites with your friends.
- Random drug testing must be mandatory for all employees. Addiction and drug use can arise at any time in a person’s life. A traumatic experience such as the loss of a loved one or a severe accident can lead to drug and alcohol abuse. From there it’s only a short step to addiction. Random testing won’t stop it from happening but it can help you catch it before it becomes a problem.
- Reasonable suspicion must be used to drug test an employee who is showing signs of addiction. Determine what the signs of that addiction look like – again in writing with the assistance of an attorney – then enforce it scrupulously.
- Post-accident drug testing should be enforced on anyone who has been involved in an accident at work. The results will help determine the cause of the accident. It still might have been caused by the employee being careless, but that’s a separate issue.
The above is just a sampling of the kind of written policy you need to establish in regards to drug testing. Use it as a springboard and begin writing one today.