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When you should test your employees for drugs

Workplace drug tests are crucial considering that there is an increase in failed drug tests. Some studies indicated that many employees fail drug tests, especially in the warehousing and transportation sectors. There is also an increase in failed drug tests in other sectors, such as construction and wholesale. This increase can be due to the safety-sensitive position that these industries have. Keep in mind that safety-sensitive jobs tend to have strict drug testing guidelines. 

That said, alcohol or drugs can affect the performance of employees regardless of job or industry type. Working under the influence of illegal drugs can place co-workers, employees, and the general public at risk, which can have serious consequences. This is the reason why you need to have a drug free workplace. This article discusses when you should test your employees for drugs.  

Conducting a drug test

In most cases, drug testing is usually part of the hiring process. In such cases, it is called pre-employment drug testing. A company can also test employees for alcohol or drug use during employment, though this depends on state law. Companies can often notify an employee that they conduct drug tests as part of the recruitment process. This is usually stated in the job posting or even on the initial application.

Most private employers don’t need by law to test their employees for drugs. But some companies in industries, such as safety, transportation, transit, defense, and aviation require testing job applicants and employees in some positions for alcohol or drug use. 

Industries that usually require drug testing for employees also include schools, hospitals, and universities. State, federal, and county job applicants and current employees can be required to do a drug test.

You should note that drug testing laws can vary by state. Some states have limits to how and when you can do drug testing. For instance, in some states, all private and public employers can test employees and job applicants without any restrictions, but the testing needs to be done by an approved lab.

On the other hand, in some states, you can test job applicants by giving them advanced notice and after offering them employment, while you can test employees if they are new hires. You can also test them if there is reasonable suspicion that the employee used drugs, after an accident, or is just a follow-up after a treatment program. As you can see, this makes it crucial to check the drug laws in your state so that you can have the right information on the drug testing that is allowed in your area. 

When you can drug test for drugs

Where allowed by state law, a job applicant can be drug tested as part of the recruitment or hiring process. If you decide to test your employee for drugs, it’s usually part of the pre-employment screening process. This is required after you offer a potential employee a job while pending the drug test results. A failed drug test can lead to the job offer being withdrawn.

And, if a potential employee takes prescription medication, then they need to check what the employer may want to screen. It’s often a good idea for potential employee to disclose their medications in advance rather than fail the drug test outright. 

Some employers can make exceptions for staff members who are using temporary medication or a physician is monitoring them for a chronic condition. And, if the medications can cause a dangerous situation for co-workers, then you need to know this in advance. Take note that you have to know the rights of job applicants to ensure that you protect them.

An employer who decides to test their employees for alcohol or drug use can often outline their drug-free policy in the employee handbook or guidelines. Depending on the state law, an employee can be chosen at random for drug testing. 

In most states, an employer can test an employee who seems to be under the influence of either alcohol or drugs on the job. Sometimes, they can also do drug testing if an employee is absent from work without an excuse or late for work or their performance seems to be affected by substance abuse. 

An employee can also be alcohol or drug tested before they accept a promotion, though this depends on the law in your state. A drug or alcohol test can also apply when an on-the-job accident happens and at any time when your company uses it as a condition of employment. But if an employee refuses a drug test or doesn’t pass the drug test, you can subject them to disciplinary action or even terminate them from employment. 

Substance abuse costs companies tons of cash annually in health care expenses, lost workplace productivity, and crime-related expenses. Workers with substance abuse problems have a good chance of being involved in workplace accidents. The truth is that misuse of alcohol or drugs is responsible for an increase in workplace deaths.

The financial impact of drug abuse at work can be significant, but you should also consider the psychological and emotional ramifications. The morale of employees can also be affected once a staff member gets injured while working. The psyche of the employees following a workplace fatality is of huge concern, especially when the cause of the death was even remotely related to the use of alcohol or drugs.

Regardless of whether a worker suffers from prescription opioid addiction or alcohol abuse, any workplace fatality or injury can usually have short and long-term effects that may sometimes go beyond the bottom line of your company. You should remember that a workplace drug testing program may not guarantee your company that you can have a drug-free workplace. But failing to have a detailed drug-free program can leave your employees and company at greater risk. 

In conclusion, when it comes to workplace hiring, screening job candidates for illegal drugs can help you to reduce the risks related to workplace substance abuse. You should also drug-test your current employees to make sure that you have a drug-free environment.

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