Drug testing is a commonplace method of meeting certain legal compliance requirements and of seeking to bolster health and safety in the workplace.
Since the mere knowledge of an upcoming drug test can result in employees altering their behavior, some companies have started drug testing their staff randomly. While a random drug test policy can provide some benefits, it can also pose challenges. Employers interested in deploying a random drug testing policy need to be aware of both the pros and the cons of such a policy.
Benefits of a Random Drug Testing Policy
One reason drug testing has become popular in some industries is its ability to provide information that employers can use to their benefit and advantage. There are several popular benefits to a random drug test policy.
First, regular workplace drug testing helps to promote workplace safety – a top concern for many businesses. When employees know they might be screened for drug use at any time, they are more careful to avoid drug use even in their free time. When workers are sober, they can more easily focus on their work and stay aware of hazards around them, helping them to avoid injury and to avoid risking harm to others.
Closely related to the question of employee safety is the question of workplace liability. When an accident occurs on company property, that company may be deemed liable if they are shown to have failed to maintain a safe working environment – such as by allowing workers to do their jobs while impaired by one or more substances. Random drug testing can help reduce this liability by addressing problems before they can cause an accident.
Worker health is another issue that relates to worker safety. It also impacts the company’s bottom line in other ways. Healthy workers are more productive on the job. They are better able to focus at work and less likely to take sick days. Random drug testing can help improve worker health by taking unauthorized drug use off the table.
Finally, random workplace drug testing provides additional support for workers who are seeking to turn their lives around after drug use or who need the benefit of a sober environment to help them build healthy lives. Random drug testing helps lay the foundation for a culture where drug use is frowned upon or is simply not an option. It closes the door to a potentially destructive path and encourages workers to seek healthier outlets.
Challenges of a Random Drug Testing Policy
Despite widespread use in some companies and industries, drug testing remains controversial. Here are some of the challenges companies may face as they seek to create and enforce a policy that governs random drug testing.
The first objection many employees raise about drug testing policies is that random drug testing infringes on their privacy rights. This sense of intrusiveness can cause workers to feel resentment about a drug testing policy. Some may even look for ways to cheat the test, compromising the value of the information collected.
A connected issue to that of worker privacy is compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations connected to drug testing. In some industries, drug testing is required in order to hold particular jobs or to maintain a particular license or credential. Yet the same employers required to gather drug test information may also be held to standards regarding the confidentiality of that information. It’s essential to understand the rules that apply to random drug testing policies before initiating one in the workplace.
Finally, a random drug testing policy does represent an additional expense for employers. Costs include testing materials, time and effort spent collecting samples, and the cost of analysis. These costs scale with the size of the workforce, which can make random drug testing policies expensive for medium and large businesses.
The costs of conducting random drug tests should be weighed against the costs of not conducting them. These include the costs associated with a potential drug-related accident or the costs of noncompliance with any applicable drug testing requirements. To further address costs, employers can work with a background screening provider that helps to streamline the drug testing process.
For More Information on Conducting Fast and Accurate Background Checks
Metrodata Services provides pre-employment screening services to companies throughout Western New York. As a PBSA-accredited provider, Metrodata Services can help you run efficient, thorough, and accurate background checks that also comply with FCRA and other applicable rules. Learn more about the screening services we offer today.