Pre-employment drug testing is required in some workplaces. This is especially true for companies that employ federal workers or employees working in safety and security-sensitive industries, such as airlines and trucking firms, as well as some healthcare employers.
Tests are usually a urine sample but can also be a blood or saliva test. Saliva tests are especially effective for deterring drug abuse because they have short detection windows.
Why Pre-Employment Drug Testing is Important to Businesses
It Saves Money
Drug screenings are cost-effective to improve company productivity and morale, increase employee safety, reduce in-office theft, and lower workers’ compensation claims. Using a urinalysis test, a common method of pre-employment drug testing, employers can screen applicants for the presence of illegal drugs and prescription medications that may impair an individual’s ability to work safely and effectively.
Employees who regularly use illegal drugs are more likely to miss work, raise insurance premiums, quit their jobs more frequently, and engage in other behaviors that cause the company to incur expenses such as legal fees, equipment replacement, and increased turnover costs. These employees are also at risk of causing accidents in which they or other employees are harmed, which can result in additional costly insurance fees and workers’ compensation claims.
A single employee who tests positive for drugs can cost a company up to $75,792 annually, including recruiting, interviewing, training, and reduced business productivity. Employers can prevent these costs by establishing a well-managed pre-employment drug testing program that regularly checks current employees for reasonable suspicion.
It Increases Productivity
Drug testing in the workplace reduces the risk of accidents and human error that can lead to lost productivity. These costs can include legal fees, employee compensation, health care expenses, loss of production, and damage to equipment.
Employees under the influence of drugs miss work much more often than clean ones. Additionally, they tend to be less productive when they show up for work. Some of this is due to presenteeism, when employees come into the office but are distracted by hangovers or personal issues that interfere with their work performance.
Pre-employment drug tests are often required after an employment offer and before the new hire begins working. However, many employers also perform routine drug screenings on current employees. This is called reasonable suspicion testing, conducted when a manager or supervisor observes behavior that could be caused by drug use. This includes erratic behavior, confusion, an inability to perform routine tasks, and disorientation.
While some employers may choose to fire workers who test positive for illegal drugs, most companies that offer drug-testing services will help them get into treatment programs. This demonstrates compassion and helps workers with drug problems find the support they need to overcome their addictions.
It Deters Abuse
Drug abuse can cause many problems for employers, including accidents and injuries, lost productivity, and absenteeism. Pre-employment and routine drug testing help to deter drug use in the workplace, saving companies money and improving employee morale.
Pre-employment screening is typically done using a urinalysis test, which can detect the presence of drugs or alcohol in the body. It can also reveal traces of recent usage, as drugs stay in the body for an extended period. A urinalysis can detect the following drugs:
Employers may also screen employees using blood, sweat, or saliva tests. These can detect a wider range of substances, depending on the company’s needs and the type of job.
Companies need to analyze the risks involved in their jobs before deciding whether or not to drug test. Some jobs are incredibly hazardous, and if an employee is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it could lead to serious injury for both themselves and other employees. In addition, if an employer cannot perform their job due to impairment properly, it can also affect customers’ safety.
It Increases Safety
There is no question that drugs and alcohol in the workplace increase work-related accidents and injuries. Pre-employment drug testing protects employers by making sure their new hires can do the job safely and without putting themselves and others at risk.
Performing random drug tests on current employees reduces accidents and injuries, resulting in lower workers’ compensation costs. This helps businesses save money and maintain a safe environment.
Companies need to know that urine and blood drug tests only look for the presence of illegal substances, not a person’s actual drug use. Employees who haven’t used illegal drugs in a while can still test positive because the body retains and releases these substances as metabolites. To avoid a false positive, an employee should abstain from any substance that isn’t allowed in their occupation or recommended by their doctor. Some medications may also trigger a false positive, including prescription painkillers and antidepressants.
It Reduces Legal Liability
Proponents of drug testing state that it reduces legal liability for wrongful termination, workers’ compensation claims, and other lawsuits. Moreover, employees not on drugs or under the influence can work better and safer. This translates into lower insurance premiums and improved overall performance.
Employers may require pre-employment drug tests or random testing for all employees. They may also drug test on a case-by-case basis when supervisors witness behavior that could indicate that an employee is under the influence or abusing prescription drugs. This type of screening is known as reasonable suspicion testing and is included in most companies’ drug-free workplace policies.
The type of drugs tested for varies with company and industry, but a standard 5-panel test can detect marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP). Larger panel tests are often used to detect abuse of prescription painkillers and other medically prescribed substances. Regular drug testing can also protect companies from lawsuits when an accident occurs on company property. The business is liable for the accident if it is deemed that the company failed to maintain a safe working environment.
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