Drug Testing in the Workplace As drug use throughout the world continues to rise, there are many employers becoming concerned for their businesses. Collecting hair, blood, or urine is usually the beginning process of a drug test. It is then tested in a lab with chemicals to extract drugs from the samples taken. It is done before one is hired in order to detect the use and or abuse of illegal substances such as marijuana and cocaine. While many people feel that drug testing is a violation of one’s privacy and personal rights, employers believe that drug testing is necessary to maintain a good working environment.
Employees that are using illicit drugs or abusing prescription drugs are less productive, tend to miss work more often, may steal from the company, and are prone to more accidents. I will argue that drug testing in the work place is indeed appropriate to ensure the safety of oneself and others. On average it costs over $5000 to replace a good worker and maybe even more depending on if the qualifications and skill set increases. Turnover of the workforce in any organization is a very expensive and a relatively timely component that can be controlled by hiring a better quality of workers the first time around.
One of the qualities that help to maintain a great work turnover is a great worker that is drug free and does not have drug abuse behaviors that will surely carry over to the workplace. In reality, employees that abuse drugs tend to be less productive than those employee’s that do not consume drugs. Marijuana and cocaine, the two main drugs that are usually abused, causes one to be sluggish and tired for numerous amounts of hours after use which interferes with one’s attention span and concentration. Moreover, being absent also places a major burden on employers.
It can mainly affect small businesses because there are fewer resources available to fill in for the absent employee resulting in a decline in the needed manpower. Increased unauthorized absenteeism, increased, unexplained tardiness consistent absenteeism, excessive use of sick leave, constantly complaining about vaguely defined illnesses, frequent requests for early time off frequent, extended lunch breaks, and unexplained disappearances from the job is all examples of things that will usually result in a decreased output. The performance and profits for the company also decreases due to the ongoing problem with employees being absent.
It is strongly suggested that when absenteeism is greater than 15%, a very large portion of this absenteeism is related to drug use abuse and that the implementation of a drug testing program significantly impacts absenteeism. Drug abuse in the workplace can also result in a degrading attitude and physical appearance of the worker that may be using drugs. The worker may be confrontational with coworkers and supervisors. Supervisors would have to maintain a strict watch over the employee, as their assignments and responsibilities may not be getting handled effectively.
Their personal appearance may also deteriorate causing them to come to work with blood shot eyes, or large or small pupils. They may also end up losing or forgetting parts of their uniform. This would leave a bad reputation for the business once customers, clients, or guest enters the workplace. Furthermore, workplace accidents play a huge role into why drug testing in the workplace is much needed. Whether an employee is operating heavy duty machinery at a construction site or chopping meats and food with a knife in a restaurant, most jobs are extremely safer when performed by someone who is completely sober.
The employee will have a clear mind and the capability to handle any dangerous machinery. The employee will also be able to properly follow the organizations rules and procedures while accurately performing task. By conducting drug test, employers are providing an all-around safe work environment, not only for their employees but for themselves as well, limiting lawsuits that can be placed against them. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a drugusing employee is almost 4 times more likely to be involved in an accident, and five times more likely to make a worker’s compensation claim.
This not only affects that employee, but coworkers as well when they are placed in harm’s way. Drugs can cause impaired judgment resulting in slow reaction times and misguided decisions, which almost always leads to accidents. When a business implements drug testing, workers can feel safe about doing their job and not fear that an accident will occur due to someone carelessly doing drugs. There are many workplace studies that measure the accident rates of companies. These studies results are taken before and after drug testing is implemented in a workplace. They show that drug testing is definitely an important safety factor.
One of the most significant studies involved the Southern Pacific Railroad. After drug test were implanted the accidents that resulted in injuries dropped from 2,234 accidents in the previous year before drug testing was implemented to just about 322 in the first half of the fourth year of the drug-testing program. While many employers agree that drug testing is necessary, there are many employees that are less receptive to random drug testing because they believe that it is an invasion of their privacy since there may not be any probable cause to be tested in the first place.
Privacy is a huge concern in regards to drug testing. While drug testing is legal in the workplace, arguments against drug testing suggest that it goes against an individual’s constitutional rights. This will cause an employee to have less of a desire to work for a company due to the lack of trust between workers and the employers. It is also argued that it is not a reliable tool for assessing if someone is impaired. The urine and hair test itself can only reveal certain past elements of abuse, which has nothing to do with their current state.
The person may not be currently abusing a drug but can still face denial from a job if it is evident that they have used prior to a 90 day time period. This would be considered unfair because they are not currently using once applying for a job. It can also ruin a person’s reputation with that company. An alternative would be only testing when abuse is suspected while one is currently employed. Losing money is a huge reason why businesses decide to drug test; but drug testing may be another reason why they can be losing money. Drug test are usually very expensive.
Depending on what the employer is testing for, the cost of a test can range from eight dollars to about seventy-two dollars per person. Although that may not be a lot for testing one person, testing a whole staff can prove to be very expensive to a company. Buying test kits, hair testing specifically, which is the most expensive, but also the most successful and efficient form of testing, causes a loss within the company especially when the business has to do it frequently. Hair testing proves to be a challenge when the donor does not have any hair to shave and turn in as a sample.
It is also not appropriate to use when there is reasonable suspicion due to the detection window that it has. Urine test are the most non-reliable form of drug testing. Many argue that it should not be used because it is not reliable and can be easily manipulated by the employee. Adulteration can occur, which is the process of placing something in the urine to make the drugs undetectable. Dilution can also occur, which is the act of drinking a large amount of water in a short amount of time in order to dilute the urine.
During urine drug testing the collection process is not monitored and cannot measure the frequency of use, or current severe impairment. Many people are able to pass a drug test due to these processes, which shows that drug testing should not be a mandatory test done by employers. Although valid arguments exist for and against drug testing, the arguments made against drug testing are just not strong enough to disqualify drug testing as a meaningful tool in the workplace. This works effectively at maintaining a business’s safety, increasing accidents, and reducing absences.
Even though drug testing can be seen as an invasion of the worker’s privacy, it is only way that an employer can ensure the productivity, stability, and well-being of its employees. Productivity and employee morale rise with improved attendance, attention to work and improved performance. On average, companies believe that abseentism is 66 percent higher, health benefit utilization is 84 percent higher, and disciplinary action is 90 percent high when drug testing is not in effect.
As you can see, drug use in the work place can affect a business in huge ways. This can be avoided by promoting programs focused on improving health. Many individuals and families face a host of difficulties closely associated with drug use and these problems can often spill over into the workplace. By encouraging and supporting treatment, employers can dramatically assist in reducing the negative impact of drug abuse in the workplace, while reducing their costs.