Workplace drug testing has become a standard procedure for many organizations. It is evident that employers are beginning to realize the importance of establishing a workplace drug policy and the importance of implementing a drug testing program. Employers are concerned about the ability to hire qualified workers, the cost of benefits, and workers’ compensation costs. With so many employers impacted by drug abuse, it is time to also be concerned about drug misuse by employees. An organization that strives for a drug-free workplace, with methods including offering employee assistance programs, will harvest the benefits of a healthier workplace.

Know the Costs

Substance abuse disorders are costly to an organization. Recently, it has been estimated that treatment for substance abuse costs is more than $35 billion a year, while treating injuries and illnesses relating to drug abuse is estimated at $85 billion in the United States.  Substance abuse is increasing especially with the opioid epidemic affecting most of the general population.  It is important to examine how these factors could potentially affect your organization. The result of substance abuse in the workplace contributes to absenteeism, increased health care expenses, lost productivity and workplace accidents and injuries. Putting into effect a drug testing policy can help avoid any costly mistakes with any potential or current employees.

Understand the Law

Researching state and local laws are crucial in order to remain compliant when implementing a drug testing policy. As the laws are changing with the approved use of certain drugs for medical purposes. Ensure that your HR professionals and supervisory teams are thoroughly trained on these policies and continue training as there are updates to the law. Understanding your rights as an employer and the rights of your employees will create a well-defined policy with the interests of both parties being considered. Consulting legal advice is also recommended when finalizing the drug testing policy.

Establish a Clearly Outlined Policy

Testing your current and potential employees can help prevent and detect drug abuse. Healthcare costs are tremendously higher for drug users. A clearly outlined policy sets the expectations and what the level of tolerance that your organization has for employees that are affected by drug abuse. A partnership with a reputable drug testing company is suggested. Within the policy it should state when drug testing is required such as pre-employment screening, after an accident or incident, and if there is reasonable suspicion that an employee should be tested due to observable and unusual patterns of behavior. Determine the consequences if someone tests positive after a drug test and if your organization provides an EAP or Employee Assistance Program with resources to help treat drug abuse. The benefits of a workplace drug testing program include reducing costs associated with substance abuse, such as workplace accidents, loss of productivity, and workers’ compensation costs.

Employment drug testing is a powerful tool preventing the risk that provides benefits that are far-reaching. In addition to promoting a safer, more productive workplace, it can help decrease turnover and absenteeism. There are many unknowns when hiring new employees. The impact that has on an organization is very vast. An employer has an obligation to themselves, other employees, and their clients to know to the best of their ability – who they are adding into their workplace.

References: Forbes, Disa