Impact of Drug Testing on The Workplace Health and Productivity

Drug testing can help eliminate the poor decision-making that often occurs when workers are under the influence. It is especially important in safety-sensitive jobs, where one worker’s bad judgment can put others at risk of serious injuries and costly losses. Companies implementing comprehensive drug-testing programs report improved overall job performance and staff morale.

Increase Productivity

Drug testing identifies employees struggling with substance abuse and helps them get the needed help. It prevents a negative impact on their lives and the company’s productivity. It also allows the company to weed out any problem employees and saves money by cutting off a source of income. Drug use impairs a worker’s judgment, alertness, perception, and motor coordination, making it more likely they will have an accident on the job. It is especially dangerous if they work in safety-sensitive positions. These poor decisions don’t just put that solitary worker at risk, but everyone around them. It is why many employers choose to drug test employees who perform safety-sensitive tasks, such as driving a vehicle on the job or handling sensitive information. Companies can also do random drug testing or on reasonable suspicion of drug abuse, such as slurred speech or uncoordinated movements.

Studies have shown that employee drug testing increases productivity and reduces absenteeism, workers’ compensation claims, and costs of healthcare and insurance for both the company and its employees. Moreover, employee drug testing has helped to lower turnover rates and promotes a better culture in the workplace. It is particularly true in industries that rely on employee focus and precision, such as manufacturing, transportation, and energy. These industries have seen increased productivity after implementing employee drug testing programs.

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Identify Problem Employees

Drugs can affect an employee’s judgment, alertness and perception, making them more likely to have an accident on the job. It is especially true for safety-sensitive workers, such as pilots or engineers. A bad decision made while under the influence of drugs can put that worker at risk and everyone in the workplace who interacts with them. Drug testing can help employers identify problem employees and take the necessary steps to protect all those in their care. Before an employee starts working, pre-employment drug tests are generally required to ensure the company hires drug-free employees. These tests can be performed on urine, blood, hair or saliva. Reasonable suspicion testing can be conducted on an ongoing basis as part of a drug-free workplace policy in response to physical signs such as slurred speech or unsteady walking; behavioral symptoms such as unexplained changes in work performance, loss of focus, or withdrawn engagement with colleagues and management; and psychological signs including depressed mood, anxiety, and angry outbursts. Regular testing can help employees stay drug-free and deter them from trying to relapse in the future. Those with positive test results can be offered rehabilitation and other employee assistance benefits as part of a comprehensive drug-testing program that helps them return to being healthy, productive workers.

Reduce Costs

Drug testing can lower costs by reducing accidents in the workplace. Workers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol miss work at a higher rate and are less productive when they do come into the office. It can lead to lost revenue and is costly for businesses to operate. In addition to reducing accidents and losses, a company implementing drug testing programs can save on insurance rates. Workers’ compensation rates may be lower for a drug-free workforce, and companies can sometimes even use positive test results to reject unemployment claims.

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Although some employees resent having to regularly or randomly submit to urine tests, many workers appreciate the safety and productivity benefits of a drug testing program. Companies must have clear policies to delineate what constitutes reasonable suspicion and how supervisors should conduct the tests. Employees abusing drugs and alcohol harm the entire company, from health care and productivity to loss of morale. Drug abuse can cost employers up to $140 billion every year, according to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD). In addition to lost wages from employee absenteeism and presenteeism, business owners pay for the cost of workplace injuries and accidents and lose out on profit.

Reduce Absenteeism

Drug use on the job can be a big problem for productivity. It can cause poor decision-making, tardiness, sleeping on the job, and a general loss of focus. A strong drug testing program can help reduce these problems, allowing employees to work more focused and improving their overall performance. Another benefit of a drug testing program is that it can help to lower company costs. In particular, the cost of workers’ compensation claims and legal fees related to workplace accidents can be reduced due to a drug-free environment. In addition, companies may also save money on medical insurance rates as a result of fewer employee injuries due to substance abuse.

Companies need clear policies to reap the full benefits of a drug testing program. It will include ensuring that the tests are taken at professional laboratories with processes in place to ensure quality control, sample splitting and chain of custody. Additionally, companies must have a solid training plan to ensure managers can identify potential issues and take the proper action.

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