News

Does Workplace Drug Testing Work?

Studies suggest that drug abuse, which also includes alcohol, cost America about $276 billion/year in costs relating to lost work productivity and increased healthcare expenses. With recent changes in marijuana laws and increased use of other illicit drugs, companies are questioning the value of drug testing. Many agree that for safety-sensitive positions, like truck drivers, drug testing still provides plenty of value; but is substance abuse testing still valuable for employers? Please read the attached blog post from Quest Diagnostics to learn more about the latest metrics regarding drugs in the workplace.


Does Workplace Drug Testing Work?

by BOB McCORMICK on APRIL 15, 2016 

As marijuana becomes more widely accepted, some are questioning if workplace drug testing for marijuana and otherillicit drugs is appropriate or even necessary. Some argue that the so-called “war on drugs” is over and, therefore, drug testing provides no value. Yet, the reality is that there is a wealth of empirical research conducted by government and independent organizations that shows that workplace drug use puts all of us at risk – and that workplace drug testing can help to foster healthier, safer, drug-free work environments.

We reviewed published research and articles to help to highlight some key points such as how people under the influence of drugs perform their job duties, if drug use in our society is increasing, the effectiveness of workplace drug testing and whether screening discourages use.

Safety-Sensitive Workers Should Not Use Drugs
Drug use unfavorably affects driving and other safety-sensitive job functions. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) continues to conduct research regarding the issue of impairment and safety. According to Cannabis Effects on Driving Skills, study authors provide data about the negative effects of marijuana on drivers, including an increase in lane weaving, poor reaction times and decreased attention to the road as well as a heightened risk of involvement in an accident. Use of alcohol with marijuana made drivers more impaired, causing even more lane weaving. In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 50 percent of all on-the-job accidents and up to 40 percent of employee theft is related to substance abuse.

Drug Use is Increasing
Drug use and abuse is on the rise. Data from the latest Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ report showed that the positivity rate in the general U.S. workforce increased overall by 9.3 percent, to 4.7 percent in 2014, which is driven by an upsurge in cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine use. Marijuana positivity in the general U.S. workforce increased 14.3 percent (2.4% in 2014 vs. 2.1% in 2013). In addition, marijuana positivity increased 20 percent in Colorado and 23 percent in Washington – both states where recreational marijuana use is legal. Also consider the latest report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) regarding drug use rates in the U.S. among people aged 12 or older:

  • Approximately 27 million Americans were current illicit drug users in 2014 (up from 23.9 million in 2013), representing 10.2 percent of the population.
  • Illicit drug use continues to be propelled primarily by marijuana use with 22.2 million current marijuana users.
  • Eight (8.4) percent of people were current marijuana users in 2014 – up from the percentages in 2002 to 2013.

Drug Users Try to Avoid Drug Testing
Research demonstrates that workplace drug testing helps to deter employees from using drugs on the job and candidates from applying for jobs at companies that drug test. Consider these facts:

  • A 1999 federal government study of current drug users who were employed found that 40 percent said they were less likely to work for a company that conducted random drug testing. Thirty percent said they were less likely to work for a company that conducted pre-employment drug testing.
  • In a 1990 survey of U.S. Navy personnel by Paul Mulloy in the Drug-Free Workplace Report, 83 percent indicated that drug testing was the number one deterrent to drug use and 27 percent said they would resume using drugs if the Navy discontinued its drug testing program.
  • Employers who drug test have seen their drug test positivity rates decline over time. “The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index provides the best evidence to date that the Drug-Free Workplace Act and the public and private initiatives it helped to spur have led to steep declines in drug use among much of the American workforce,” said Laura Shelton, Executive Director, Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA).

Summary
For the anti-drug testing voices, it’s critical to understand that a decrease in drug test positivity rates does not mean that drug testing doesn’t work or isn’t needed. Actually, it’s quite the opposite, in that drug testing likely helped to drive down drug test positivity rates. Furthermore, the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index 25th anniversary report measured an unprecedented 125+ million workplace urine drug tests performed since 1988. Insights from the report showed that although drug use among American workers has declined 74 percent during the past quarter century, the rate of positive test results for certain drugs continue to climb.

The bottom line is that drug testing does work. And, in order to reap the benefits that drug testing helps to provide, employers must remain vigilant in their testing programs to keep their workforces drug-free.

To view the blog post via Quest Diagnostics, please click here.

/ Print
Posted by Sandra Shinn in General

Comments


Be the first to comment
Name*
E-mail*
Website
Comment*
0 Pending Comments
 Keep me updated of follow-up comments!
Most Recent

By Sandra Shinn
November 15, 2017 Category • General

There is hardly a person that the current opioid crisis does not affect. Whether you personally know someone who suffers from opioid addiction, or you know a friend of a friend This is a very real and growing problem that continues to touch the lives of too many people. In this blog, were going to address some of the main factors of the opioid crisis, with the help from our friends at Quest Diagnostics: How Does it Start? Yes, opioid addiction can begin by just hanging out with the wrong crowd, but more often than not, it begins at a doctors office. Many prescriptions for painkillers are careless or overprescribed, which can frequently leads to the misuse of the prescription. Quest shares how misuse can work: Misuse occurs when a prescribed drug is taken in a way that is not consistent with a physicians orders. For many, deviating from a doctors instructions may lead to dependence on painkillers and, in the worst case scenario, seeking out to find street drugs like heroin

By Sandra Shinn
November 06, 2017 Category • General

Carnivals and fairs have recently been a hot topic up for public debate after several incidents this year involving assault, sexual harassment, and drug abuse happened all over the nation. With no government oversight, state laws, or local regulations, its important to understand how each employee is vetted and hired so we can all feel safe and have peace of mind at our next carnival. What it essentially comes down to, is that the hiring and vetting processes are solely determined by each company for each carnival, festival, and fair. This includes determining whether or not a company wants to perform a background check at all on a candidate, and even when deciding which past criminal offenses they will or will not accept when looking at an applicants record. Sometimes, this means applicants with criminal history can slip through the cracks For example, employee Jeffrey Thomas Pendzimas of the Minnesota State Fair, was charged with sexual assault on a woman in front of her children

By Sandra Shinn
October 17, 2017 Category • General

This blog has been written by Roy Maurer of SHRM. Pre-Check is re-posting it with permission. Roy Maurer | roy.maurer@shrm.org Employers that conduct background screens need to keep up as states expand the types ofcriminal records eligible for sealing or expungement. Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., recently proposed to wipe clean the arrest records of people who were not later convicted. Her plan joins a spate of efforts dubbed second chance or clean slate bills that would limit employers access to criminal records of arrests without convictions, minor misdemeanors and even low-level felonies, to improve ex-offenders job prospects. Most states allow for criminal records to be sealed or expunged, although laws vary by state. Some states do not permit expungement, or they allow expungement under very limited circumstances. Dealing with sealed or expunged records can be tricky for employers conducting background screens because of differences in state laws and the