Updated: Oct 16
There is a multitude of methods and techniques employers use to maintain a safe and productive workplace – Pre employment background screening, safety committee, training, and workshops. But there is one procedure that can immediately show whether an employee is a potential threat to the workplace environment - Drug testing.
Although the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 states that while protecting their workplace, employers have to ensure that the staff is not working under the influence of drugs and alcohol, many still see pre employment drug testing as intrusive. But despite this topic being slightly controversial, the statistics show that more than 70 percent of those abusing illicit drugs in the U.S. are employed.
There might be a large number of those who are able to control their drug or alcohol use at the workplace. Yet, some of the negative effects of drug use are lowered productivity, physical injuries, and fatalities. Evidence of losses have reached 81 billion dollars – spending money on absenteeism, healthcare costs, and lost productivity.
So although pre employment drug testing might be an uncomfortable topic for both employers and workers, it’s critical to tackle this problem and cast a light on its benefits and procedure.
IS PRE EMPLOYMENT DRUG TESTING A BENEFICIAL INVESTMENT?
Despite having trust in your recruiters’ hiring decisions and employee quality, many people can be high-functioning at work while having illicit substances in their system. However, even if employees don’t allow their drug abuse to interfere with their work abilities, one can’t rely on that continuously. – One mistake is enough to endanger all team members and the company’s brand and reputation. Below are some of the advantages of conducting workplace drug testing.
SAFETY IMPROVEMENT AND MENTAL HEALTH
It’s never enough to highlight that by ordering drug testing, you are reducing risk in your company. That is also the principal reason why employers turn to this method; ensuring that employees are not abusing illicit drugs and providing a safer workplace.
Employees who use drugs are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident, and also file a worker’s compensation claim more frequently. Unfortunately, workplace injuries and dangerous situations are often related to drugs and alcohol.
However, the consequences of substance abuse don’t have to be drastic and imminent. – They can affect the workplace in various ways. For example, workers who are under the influence of drugs often bring their problems with them to work. These employees also tend to be less aware of their environment and less concerned about coworkers and their safety. The effects of drugs on the human brain can slow down reaction time, which presents a risk for both the employee under the influence and their colleagues.
PREVENT DECREASED PRODUCTIVITY AND EMPLOYEE TURNOVER
Studies show that employees that abuse drugs function at 67 percent of their capacity, which directly impacts their performance and productivity.
Illicit substances can deteriorate health, which means that the odds of absenteeism are higher, and the company might also encounter increased use of health insurance and benefits. As a result of poor performance and frequent days-off, the company could also risk employee turnover. Illicit drug users are more than twice as likely to change employers three or more times per year.
AVOID LEGAL ISSUES
There is a multitude of legal problems that this could cause the company. – Up to 40 percent of industrial fatalities and 47 percent of injuries are connected to alcohol abuse.
Workers who abuse drugs can endanger both their own lives and their colleagues. Drug testing at the workplace is worth the extra money because it ensures the safety of all employees by detecting all those who might pose a risk.
WHAT ARE THE TOP DRUG TESTING METHODS?
By ordering drug testing, you can identify whether your staff is using any illicit substances. Drug tests come in the shape of panels where each panel is a drug being tested. There is a variety of options, but these are the most common drug testing methods.
5-PANEL DRUG TEST
The procedure of a standard 5-panel drug test consists of urine testing, and those that mostly use it are government agencies and private employers. The test checks commonly abused illegal drugs and prescription drugs, such as
10-PANEL DRUG TEST
The 10-panel drug test screens for the ten most frequently misused prescription drugs. Here's the most common list.
It is possible to use a blood or other bodily fluids for screening, but urine tests are the most common.
HAIR DRUG TEST
Hair testing is commonly used in financial positions, professional sports, government agencies and even post accident situations. Employees are generally tested for the same type of drugs such as cocaine marijuana and the others listed above. The most common pre employment screening hair follicle test is a 10 panel. The results of a hair test have the longest detection period, and can typically detect up to 90 days.
This type of drug and alcohol testing is not as common as the oral fluid and urine tests and is much more intrusive than the others. During this test, applicants must provide a sample of their hair from their head. If the applicant is bald or has minimal hair (typically 3 inches) then they must provide body hair. The main downside of a hair drug test is that they're typically double the price of an oral fluid or urine test and that the processing time for results may take an additional 2-3 business days.
BAC ALCOHOL BLOOD TEST
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the standard way of measuring how drunk a person may be. In the U.S., the legal limit of BAC is 0.08 percent. The blood test can only identify alcohol in the bloodstream for up to 12 hours after a person had their last drink.
DOT DRUG TESTING
The DOT drug test typically consists of the same testing as the 5 panel (above). The difference is that DOT employees are under the authority of the Department of Transportation. Some of the differences between a DOT drug test and a private employer drug test is the Scope of testing, the cutoff levels, types of tests used, the specimens used, and the collection process. DOT testing is more standardized while many drug tests for private employers vary in requirements from state to state.
INVESTMENT IN RISK MITIGATION AND A BETTER EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE
Companies that want to create and maintain a zero-risk workplace that nurtures the health and well-being of their employees should also consider a drug-free workplace policy. By ordering drug testing, they can prevent accidents, high healthcare costs, absenteeism, and decreased productivity.
While drug testing might still raise questions, if executed correctly and with consent, they can save the company from losing an employee, positive public image, or money.
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Tracy is the CEO of Global Background Screening LLC, a veteran-owned and operated background check agency. GBS is dedicated to providing you fast and timely background checks as easy as possible.