January 3, 2023

Employers everywhere are growing concerned for workplace safety due to increasing drug use. With the continued legalization of cannabis, studies have shown increases in workplace accidents by as much as 55 percent and absenteeism by as much as 75 percent. And heroin abuse has seen a nearly 300 percent increase from 2010 to 2020. It’s become increasingly urgent to develop company policies that address employee drug use.

Drug testing is one part of these policies, and it serves a necessary role in a drug-free work culture. And because of the negative impact drug use can have, especially in safety-sensitive industries, companies should consider the benefits of drug testing in the workplace when developing new safety policies.

The Negative Impact of Drug Use on Safety-Sensitive Industries

Drug use in the workplace has a negative impact on any company. In industries with inherently risky environments, including transportation, construction, petroleum, and manufacturing, the danger of impairment due to drug use is even more significant. The effects of both illicit drugs and misused prescription drugs include impaired depth perception, motor skills, and reaction times. And these impairments could result in critical and even fatal injuries.

Other negative effects of drug use at work include:

  • Increased absenteeism
  • Decreased productivity
  • More frequent workplace accidents
  • Increased occurrences of injuries and illnesses

And these negative effects can damage the work environment and cost companies money. If drug use policies aren’t designed to address the negative consequences in a proactive manner, companies will see increasing issues.

Understanding the Benefits of Drug Testing in the Workplace

While requiring a drug test at work can kickstart many positive benefits in the workplace, policies that support accountability, recovery, and self-identification during work activities must accompany required testing. From health and safety benefits to productivity, it’s financially and legally beneficial to have set policies in place for drug use.

Reduced Drug Use

First and foremost, drug testing in the workplace encourages sobriety. With the knowledge that their substance use will be detected, many workers will reduce or eliminate use, depending on job requirements and company policies. And that reduction of use has far-reaching health and safety benefits, even when off the clock.

Decreased Risks of Accidents and Injuries

When drug use is reduced, the impairment associated with it is likewise reduced. And when workers have better reaction time, motor skills, and depth perception, accidents and consequent injuries become less frequent. Consistent expectations of requiring a drug test at work make it possible to see a safer workplace in a short span of time.

Increased Productivity

Impairment, accidents, and injuries slow down the workflow of many industries, especially in safety-sensitive careers. But when companies choose to implement a drug-free work environment through testing, policies, and support, workers can work more efficiently and effectively.

Reduced Medical Costs

A less visible result of drug use in the workplace is the medical costs connected to injuries. As accidents in the workplace increase, so does the cost of insurance, both for the employer and for employees. But when companies make a commitment to a safe and drug-free workplace, one of the benefits is improved insurance rates because there are fewer medical claims related to drug-related accidents.

Developing Policies for Safety and Drug Testing in the Workplace

But required drug testing in the workplace necessitates specific policies to ensure safety and remain legally compliant with state and federal laws. When building a company policy to support drug testing in the workplace legally, you’ll need to include:

  • Training for management that ensures compliance with the policy
  • Clearly defined protocols for testing requirements, including when testing will be expected
  • A support system for employees with drug use problems, including access to referrals to local resources or a formal assistance program
  • Established and clear guidelines for possession and use by employees
  • Predetermined responses to positive test results, convictions, and arrests

The purpose behind strong policies is to ensure that your company sees the benefits of drug testing in the workplace without legal complications. These policies also build a culture where drug use is addressed in a way that encourages employees to make safer choices during work hours.

Once you’ve established the policies for a drug-free workplace, the issue of testing is the next step. One testing option that can bring significant benefits to the workplace is the PharmChek® Drugs of Abuse Sweat Patch. Let’s see how this testing method sets itself apart from other options.

The Benefits of Drug Testing in the Workplace with PharmChek®

The PharmChek® Sweat Patch is a minimally invasive drug testing system that respects privacy, offers continuous sample collection for up to 10 days, and goes through stringent collection and testing procedures to ensure accurate results. And with its ability to continuously monitor sobriety, it is uniquely valuable for screening employees in high-risk or active roles where safety and liability risks are maximized.

For Random Compliance Testing

Workplace safety depends largely on an employee’s ability to react quickly and appropriately to changing situations and demands. The Sweat Patch’s continuous monitoring encourages sobriety during the testing window, making random drug tests at work more impactful without interfering with daily activities.

For Return to Duty

After a drug violation, the steps to return to duty often include evaluations, treatment plans, and drug testing. While there are many testing methods that can be used, the PharmChek® Sweat Patch is specifically well suited for providing confirmation of sobriety during the treatment plan for return to duty requirements.

For Reasonable Suspicion

If an employee shows signs of impairment or drug use, drug testing in the workplace is a reasonable response. Safety-minded drug testing policies allow other employees to avoid accidents or injuries due to negligence. With continuous detection and its tamper-evident design, the Sweat Patch makes it possible for managers to ensure employees remain compliant with drug policies. In addition, the efficacy of the test results allows employers to start conversations with employees about drug use problems without negative legal ramifications.

Drug Testing Means a Better Workplace

With a strong support system in place, along with clear and legally supported policies, a safe workplace is possible. With the benefits of drug testing in the workplace, it’s important to keep employees familiar with your policies. Drug testing at work is just one of many components within a company’s drug policy, but it serves an important part in maintaining consistency, high standards of conduct, and training for managers to keep their teams accountable and safe.