The Importance of Screening Employees For Drugs

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Drug abuse problems tend to seep into the work place. With Americans spending billions of dollars to fuel their drug abuse every year, employers should encourage their employees to remain drug-free. Employers should also consider implementing drug tests to prevent accidents and theft in the work place. On site drug screening, both before and during employment, decreases the number of drug users in the workplace and, in turn, helps establish a safe working environment and increase productivity.

Pre employment drug screening will most often occur upon employment. Employers also administer drug tests when there has been an accident in the work place. Employers are usually responsible for paying medical bills when employees have been injured on the job. However, if the drug test is positive, employers are not necessarily expected to be responsible for the negligence of their employee.

Sometimes there is reasonable cause to administer a drug test to an employee, usually only if they exhibit strong signs of drug abuse. Screening in this way is sometimes necessary, but people usually want to steer clear of singling anyone out.

Random drug testing (where all employees are selected randomly by a computer program) is altogether the most efficient method. Administering drug tests in this way is much more effective than other methods. Not only are drug-abusing employees unable to prepare for the drug screen, but, by allowing a computer to select these employees, employers can monitor drug use from the bottom of the totem pole all the way up the line to the executives.

Urine samples are perhaps the most commonly used form of drug screening because urine can reveal use of seven compounds:

  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Oxycodone
  • Methadone
  • THC
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opiates

Testing oral fluids may be a quicker method that also makes it harder to cheat the test. There are some drugs that cannot be revealed in this kind of test (but this technology is still improving). Although hair samples don’t reveal the use of benzodiazepines, they do provide information on drug use ninety days prior to the test’s administration (however, analyzing hair samples is the costlier option).

Even though urine can reveal use of all of these drugs, urine tests are easier to manipulate than other forms of testing, so employers shouldn’t write these other tests off entirely. However, if employers plan to use urine samples, they may want to consider having someone supervise sample collections.

There are many reasons why employers should incorporate mandatory drug screenings for their employees (some of which have already been mentioned):

  • Abide by regulations. While not all industries are required to screen for illegal drug use, some industries are required to do so. Those working in industries like transportation, health care, and education are most often required to take regular drug tests.
  • Maintain a safe working environment. Usually the main reason for drug screening is to prevent injuries in the work place. Those who operate machinery, do manual labor, and drive for a living are often required to pass a drug test. Accidents happen, but employers need to ensure that employees aren’t putting fellow co-workers or customers in any clear danger.
  • Higher productivity. The business world is highly competitive, and employees who abuse drugs are one-third less productive than non-users. Employers simply cannot afford to waste time and company resources paying employees who get less done than their sober counterparts.
  • Give incentive for not using drugs. By establishing a drug-free workplace, employers can use jobs as incentive for avoiding illegal drug use.
  • Improve the community and help rehabilitate employees. The integrity of a company can rely heavily on the performance of its employees. Not only does this help instill faith in the company, but it helps in addressing the drug abuse problem among members of the community. When employees fail drug tests, not only are their jobs in jeopardy, but it can help bring drug abuse problems to the surface and force them to face up to those problems.

Drug abuse is a common behavior among Americans. Employers who abide by drug testing regulations can benefit the company by receiving discounts and additional worker’s compensation benefits. In most states, drug-abusing employees can also be eliminated from receiving unemployment compensation. However, drug screening may prove a necessary element of hiring and maintaining a staff, regardless of the regulations.