How Employee Drug Testing Prevents Workplace Accidents and Lawsuits

a printout of the results of a drug testing analysis

When an employee is abusing drugs or alcohol, it can lead to massive safety issues for everyone in the workplace—and contributes to a higher risk of workplace accidents and lawsuits.

The Risks of Employees Who Abuse Drugs

When an employee is misusing drugs, it can have serious safety, liability, and financial implications for a business. Out of all workplace accidents, 40% are caused by an employee who is misusing drugs or alcohol. Drug and alcohol abuse puts everyone at risk of a workplace accident, not just the person who is abusing the drug or alcohol. For example, if an employee is under the influence at a jobsite that involves heavy machinery, their impairment could lead to an accident that injures a by-standing coworker. Workplace accidents also take a heavy financial toll on employers, and employees who use drugs cost employer 300% more in medical costs and benefits than employees who don’t abuse drugs.

Employees who abuse addictive drugs are also more likely to steal to support their habit. If they are stealing materials from the workplace, this can be a costly issue for employers. It can also lead to liability issues.

Overall, unchecked drug and alcohol misuse in the workplace creates less productive employees, high liability risks, and an unsafe work environment for all employees.

The Basics of Drug Testing

If an employer wants to take action to prevent the liability and safety risks of under-the-influence employees, drug testing is a way to make sure their employees are not currently misusing drugs or alcohol. There are many different ways to perform drug tests, from hair samples to urine samples, and drug tests can look for commonly abused substances like:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamines
  • Opiates
  • PCP

When Should Employers Do a Drug Test?

To identity if employers are using drugs like these, employers have a few different options for when to drug test. Some may choose to do a pre-employment drug test for potential employers, while others might rely on random testing, or when a random selection process is used to ensure every employee has the same chance of being selected for a drug test.

Other types of workplace drug testing include:

  • Reasonable cause testing, or testing that is done when an employee’s behavior or appearance suggests they may be misusing drugs or alcohol
  • Post-accident testing to determine if drug or alcohol misuse contributed to a workplace accident
  • Return-to-duty testing for employees who were previously found to be abusing drugs or alcohol

How and when they perform drug tests might depend on an employer’s situation and needs, but fair drug testing helps employers protect their business and their employers from lawsuits and accidents, and creates a safer workplace environment for everyone.

However, employers should always be consistent with their drug testing, and use the same drug testing methods and procedures for all employees to avoid discriminating against individuals or certain groups.

Source: Mark Eddy, managing owner of Fastest Labs of East Lousville

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