5 Ways Drug Testing Benefits Your Employees
Employees who work in companies that drug test are better protected.
By Bill Nee, VP Sales/Marketing uVera Diagnostics
There are plenty of good reasons an estimated 57% of all U.S. companies make passing a drug test a condition of employment. The website Detox – dedicated to helping addicts kick the habit – recently surveyed 1,000 Americans, asking them whether they have ever used drugs on the job. A shocking 60.73% admitted to getting high before or during work hours. (Another 8.15% admitted to taking drugs on the way home from work or somewhere else outside the workplace). The five most popular drugs among the 1,000 surveyed were opiates, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin – each capable of bringing workplace safety to its knees.
In spite of the number of people who get high on the job, drug testing is still a sensitive subject for some employees. If you’ve ever overheard an employee mumble about their privacy being invaded or had a job candidate back out of the running once you told him there was a pre-employment drug test, you know how tricky the subject can be. The problem is likely this: it’s easy to understand how drug tests benefit an employer, but how do they benefit the people being tested? If you dread telling an employee that he needs to be tested simply because you suspect he will react negatively, the following five points may come in handy.
Drug Testing Offers Protection from Injury
When it comes to danger in the workplace, hard drugs are not the only culprits. A recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that one in 13 working adults have an alcohol problem. Further, nearly one in four people over the age of 12 admitted that they engaged in binge drinking in the previous month. In addition, as marijuana use becomes more socially acceptable, employees have access to marijuana-infused food and drinks and smoking implements that make it difficult to discern whether it is tobacco or an illicit drug that is being consumed. It’s common to think of pot smokers as easy-going, laid-back people. However, they are also employees who regularly work with deficits, such as impaired coordination, trouble problem solving, and an altered sense of time. Such deficits can have deadly consequences.
Potential dangers due to the actions of an impaired employee depend upon the kind of work your company does. For example, in a manufacturing setting a forklift driver with slow reflexes could run into a bystander, a crane operator could drop a piece of material onto an unsuspecting employee, or a machine operator could shatter a cutting tool, causing it to shatter onto a nearby coworker. Impaired employees also run the risk of violent hallucinations or simply terrifying fellow employees with their actions. In the event an employee complains about the need to be drug tested, it may help to remind him that drug screening is in place for his personal safety. The NSDUH study highlighted the fact that more than 11% of construction workers regularly use illicit drugs and 16.5% abuse alcohol. What does it mean for an employee who doesn’t use drugs or alcohol when at least 27% of his coworkers cannot be depended upon to be sober at any given time and cannot be counted on to prevent workplace accidents?
In short, chemical abuse of every kind puts employees at greater risk, even those who do not use. Whether it’s pre-employment or random drug testing, the practice is in place to ensure the safety of all employees.
Drug Testing Lightens the Load
As an employer, you have real concerns regarding the cost of drug and alcohol abuse among your employees. You likely worry about the number of unscheduled workdays missed by addicted employees, the amount (and cost) of additional healthcare they require, and how much their addiction will cost your company in terms of turnover. Given that the cost of recruiting and training a replacement employee averages 21% of a full-time employee’s salary, turnover is a significant concern.
While the rank and file may not seem concerned with such matters, drug screening benefits all employees by surrounding them with sober coworkers less prone to accidents and injuries and better able to carry out their everyday responsibilities. Being surrounded by healthy coworkers means being able to concentrate on their own job without worrying about covering someone else’s duties. It also means not having to worry if a co-worker is too inebriated to safely carry out their duties or worse if that co-worker might cause them personal harm.No employee wants to be in the position of picking up the slack for a coworker who cannot or will not come to work. No one wants to have to watch out for another adult who seems unable to watch out for themselves. And finally, no employee wants to have to run interference, to provide protection for a coworker who may be afraid of losing their job due to drug or alcohol problems. It is patently unfair to expect one employee to babysit another and drug screening is your company’s way to ensure it doesn’t happen.
Drug Testing Increases Morale
No adult wants to be treated like a child or in any way mistrusted, but let’s face it, telling an employee that he needs a random drug test can come across as parental. Rather than presenting drug screens as a way for employees to “prove” they’re clean, why not re-frame the conversation? Discuss the ways drug testing helps keep employees safe, the way it can lighten their workload, and how a company full of healthy employees creates a place where everyone can do their best work, a place they can look forward to spending time and building a career.
When it comes to some people, work is not just work — it is also the hub of their social life. There is no denying the fact that humans desire to connect socially. In fact, psychologists say that a lack of social connection can be more damaging to health than obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking. Conversely, spending time with people we feel connected to lowers the risk of anxiety and depression, helps strengthen the immune system, and helps us recover from illness faster. Given the busyness of everyday life, work has become a place for many people to build connectedness. An Olivet Nazarene University study showed that 82% of employees work with people who have become friends. 29% say they met their best friend on the job. Simply put, making social connections is natural and may be one of the best ways to retain great employees. You can help by creating a drug-free atmosphere where no employee feels responsible for another and where morale is high because people are free to focus on their jobs.
Drug Testing Removes All Doubt About Employee Liability
The statistics are stark and unforgiving. According to the National Safety Council, employees who abuse drugs are 2 to 5 times more likely to be involved in workplace incidents. Still, the topic of post-incident drug testing can be touchy.
As a quick reminder, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that post-accident drug testing is permissible as long as it is not used to penalize or discourage an employee for reporting a work-related injury or illness. Employers are free to conduct drug tests in an effort to evaluate the cause of an incident that harmed (or could have harmed) employees. The key here is that any worker who might have contributed to the incident must be tested, rather than just testing the employee(s) who reported the problem.
It is vital that employees understand that drug testing in a post-incident situation is designed to protect them from responsibility for an accident that was not their fault. Say you own a delivery company and one of your drivers slides off the road and hits a telephone pole. Drug testing that driver immediately after the incident can quickly clear his name. When there are no drugs or alcohol involved, an accident is simply an accident. When drugs or alcohol are involved, encouraging an employee to seek help can mean the difference between life and death.
Drug Testing Can Help an Employee Maintain Sobriety
The limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for addiction, is sometimes called “the brain reward system.” It’s the area that produces intense feelings of pleasure, the feel-good center. In fact, when a person ingests an addictive substance the limbic system releases feel-good chemicals. These chemicals are the reason it is so difficult to kick a drug or alcohol habit.
Due to the way drug and alcohol addiction develops it would be naive to say that simply having a job is enough to keep a person clean. However, as part of a bigger plan, the security of stable employment can play a part in sobriety. The knowledge that an employer can conduct random drug testing may be one more tool in an employee’s sober living tool chest. For those who have never used, it is a good reminder of what drugs and alcohol could cost them.
The Bottom Line
It would be easy to think of drug testing as a practice that solely benefits the employer. After all, it is the employer who can save money by making sure that their workforce is clean. Still, the benefits to employees should not be underestimated. The next time someone asks you why testing is necessary, remember to tell the employees who work in companies that drug test is better protected. Even if you never deal with an employee (or potential employee) who is unhappy about being drug tested, you will know that testing benefits everyone in the company, from the founder to the newest employee.
uVera Diagnostics has a variety of FDA 510(k) cleared and CLIA waived test kits that are affordable, convenient, simple to administer, 99 percent accurate, and fast in providing results.
Set to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) cut-off levels, our urine drug test kits are used by businesses and organizations in a wide range of industries from staffing to medical to criminal justice to construction and more.
Among our most popular testing kits is our CR3 Drug Test Cup. This patented test cup has an innovative design (including a large opening, slanted top, and snap-shut lid) that simplifies the process for drug test administrators. The CR3 Drug Test Cup is a keyless split-sample cup that comes in 5-panel, 6-panel, 10-panel, 12-panel, and 14-panel options. To start the test, all you need to do is twist the bottom, and you will have results in approximately 5 minutes. A residual sample is saved so, if necessary, you can use it for GC/MS confirmation.
Also widely used because of its convenience and fast results is our All-in-one Urine Drug Test Cup. This one-step urine test uses an integrated test cup and is available in a variety of panel options (5 panel, 6 panel, 7 panel, 10 panel, 12 panel).
We have many other drug testing kits, as well, that you can use for random drug testing. Contact us today if you have any questions about how we can help you fulfill your drug-free workplace initiative.
For more information on drug testing, click here or call 1-866-242-5930.
Posted by Bill Nee, VP Sales/Marketing uVera Diagnostics and Co-designer and Developer of the CR3 split-sample drug test cup. Bill has 27 years in sales management and marketing and is a 12 year veteran of the drug testing industry. As a parent and co-worker, Bill’s energy is focused on drug testing on every level. Addiction is all around us in alcohol, prescriptions, and street drugs, and that is a constant reminder a drug-free society starts with each and every one of us.
This information is meant for awareness and education purposes only. Any medical or life-saving advice should come from experts. Always consult with your physician about any and all drugs. If it is an emergency, dial 911 or call emergency services.