Drug Testing in the Workplace

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that it costs employers around $75 to $100 billion yearly to pay for drug abuse in the workplace. These costs consists of lost time, accidents, healthcare and workers compensation costs. Not to mention that the employer can also feel the impact from tardiness, absenteeism, turnover attitude problems theft, decreased productivity, crime and violence.

It is due to these issues that most employers, including the majority of all Fortune 500 companies require an applicant and workers to participate in drug testing at work. The purpose for this type of urine screening is due to safety issues and to lessen these consequences from substance abuse.

Studies show that 65% of all accidents at the workplace, are drug related. A worker who abuses drugs average around 16% more likely to take advantage of healthcare benefits, and is also 6% more prone to file worker’s compensation.

Safety professionals find drug testing to be useful and a practical in cost. The most common type of testing is pre-employment. This is a great way to eliminate bad applicants, and people with drug problems. A pre-employment drug test requires minimal effort to set up. Another type of testing is post employment. This includes random drug tests, individualized suspicion testing, and post accidents.

An employer should have a program in place before starting their company. The tests can be managed by referring an applicant to a collection site. It is here that urine is collected and sent to a lab for analysis. Within 24 hours a negative result is usually available. A second method used is an instant drug test kit. These are similar to a take home pregnancy test. The employer must manipulate a urine sample.

The type of drugs that are tested is what is considered a standard five-panel test of “street drugs”. This includes marijuana (THC), cocaine, PCP, opiates (codeine and morphine) and amphetamines (includes methamphetamine). If an employer chooses there is also a 10-panel drug test that is able to identify prescription drugs.

Typically drugs stay in the body for 2 to 4 days. If an applicant or worker is a chronic user drugs have been known to stay in their body for 14 days, or sometimes longer. Most employers require a test to be done within a short specific amount of time. This prevents delaying an amount of time, for the drug(s) to leave the body.

The amount of money and time connected with a substance abuse employee is highly excessive than the amount of money and time involved in drug screening. Most employers find that eliminating the problem first is well worth it.


One Response to “Drug Testing in the Workplace”

  1. kim | August 9, 2011 at 4:10 am #

    It seems that many employers use a faa drug abatement program in order to ensure that their workplace is drug-free. Also, it is very important for an employer to draft a drug testing policy.