US Drug Test Centers Blog

Random Drug Testing in the Workplace: Why You Need It

Posted: Oct 11 2022

two employees in meeting

By: Calee Davis

Do you know why drugs and alcohol are such a threat to your business? Here are a few statistics and figures to chew on. One survey found that 29% of workers admit to having used marijuana on the job. Somewhere between 65% and 70% of alcohol abusers are employed. Substance abuse at work increases on-the-job accidents, crime, absenteeism, and lost productivity. Overall, drug abuse costs employers about $81 billion a year. A proactive approach is vital to maintaining workplace safety, efficiency, productivity, and morale - and that's where random drug testing in the workplace comes in.

Wait a Minute, Isn't Random Drug Testing at Work Unethical?

Some people will understandably argue that random drug testing is an invasion of privacy. After all, you can smoke marijuana one night and show up to work the next day sober, but still have THC in your system. If you're not impaired, does it really matter what a drug test says?

Many employers will say yes, it does matter. Even if an employee isn't impaired, they might be dealing with the aftermath of impairment — like a hangover. Think of a scenario, too, where an employee is involved in an accident. If a drug test is given as standard protocol, and the test comes back positive, even if they weren't impaired during the accident, the employer could still have a big problem on their hands.

Random drug testing is largely a preventative measure. If employees know they might be randomly tested, then they're less likely to do drugs in the first place, which offers a layer of protection to the employer (and everyone else at the company). After all, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2018, there were 305 fatal workplace injuries due to unintentional overdoses from nonmedical use of drugs/alcohol. This was up 12% from 2017.

Imagine how much we could get that percentage down if random drug testing was a habit all employers made.

Isn't Pre-employment Drug Testing Enough?

Pre-Employment testing is certainly a good place to start, but no, it isn't enough. Studies show that random drug testing catches more users than pre-employment drug testing, and employers confirm that random drug testing helps deter both frequent and occasional use of illicit drugs.

In conclusion, random testing absolutely should be part of your screening process and drug-free workplace policy.

Two employees meeting about workplace drug testing

How Can Employers Make Random Drug Testing Fair?

There are two important pieces to this puzzle: The business' drug-free workplace policy and its method of employee selection.

As an employer, your drug-free workplace policy exists to protect both the business and its employees. And it specifically outlines to your employees what the expectations are and what should happen if they test positive for drugs or alcohol. Let's go over a few reasons why you need a drug-free workplace policy more specifically:

  • It outlines under what conditions you run drug and alcohol tests, including — you guessed it — random drug tests, as well as what specific drugs you screen for.
  • It helps avoid on-the-job accidents and crime.
  • Your policy limits liabilities.
  • It clearly explains what everyone's rights are. For example, do employees have the right to refuse a random drug test? If so, are there any repercussions and what are they?

With that being said, you can see how important it is to have a drug-free workplace policy so that (a) your employees understand your random drug screening measures and (b) you, as the employer, are protected.

Your policy should also state the second piece of the puzzle: how people are selected. Understandably, employees worry that random drug testing isn't truly random and rather, people are intentionally selected. This is why we highly recommend that you use a third party to select employees at random so that it's truly impartial.

For example, US Drug Test Centers has online cloud-based software that allows your company to create a 100% randomized drug and/or alcohol testing program. With more than 20,000 collection sites around the nation, the selected employee can find a location most convenient for them. By using our software and guaranteeing a randomized selection, we're able to reduce the liability on the part of the employer.

But Wait… Isn't Marijuana Legalized Now?

Great question! The answer? Yes and no. Many states have legalized marijuana — some for medicinal use only, and some for both medicinal and recreational use. However, it's still illegal on a federal level.

Marijuana in the workplace

This is largely where your drug-free workplace policy comes into play. As an employer, it's up to you to decide what you will and will not accept.

Okay, So How Does Random Drug Testing Work?

It's pretty simple. The drug testing software determines a set percentage of employees, and on specific days throughout the year, it will select employees at random to undergo drug and alcohol testing. It's a relatively hands-off process for the employer. The employer only takes action if the employee tests positive, and the next steps are strictly determined by the drug-free workplace policy.

US Drug Test Centers can also help your business with drug-free workplace training. This is where we further help you maintain a substance-free place of business. Materials include live training, webinar training, and online training. Custom training opportunities are also available upon request.

Especially in the age of cannabis, keeping your workplace drug-free can be tricky to navigate. US Drug Test Centers is here to help. Contact us today and let's talk more about how we can work together.

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