Why employee drug testing matters
The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 demonstrated how valuable drug-testing programs are to the workplace, considering that substance abuse among American workers has declined 74 percent since the law was enacted. However, recent years have revealed an uptick in employee drug use, a trend that illustrates more than ever the need for effective drug screening as part of the background check process.
According to Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index (DTI), backed by data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the percentage of U.S. workers testing positive for drugs reached a 10-year high as of 2016. Oral fluid testing showed a 47 percent increase in marijuana positivity since 2013, while amphetamine and heroin use trended upwards for the fifth straight year. Opioid addiction is hitting the U.S. workplace as well, costing employers approximately $12 billion annually.
DTI also notes a rise in positive post-accident urine tests in both the general and safety-mandated American workforces. Post-accident positivity in safety-sensitive workplaces increased 22 percent from 2011 to 2015.
Overall, workplace drug use is rising among companies without a dedicated drug screening program, reports DTI. Conclusions drawn from reported data show a 30 to 45 percent jump in self-reported substance use for respondents who are not tested for drugs by their employer.
These numbers are bolstered by studies that make a direct connection between drug use and an unsafe work environment. A National Safety Council study reported that 80 percent of those injured in "serious" drug-related accidents at work were the colleagues of drug-abusing employees. In addition, employees who use alcohol or drugs are 3.5 times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident than other workers.
Employee drug testing has real-world impacts, its supporters say. For example, a drug testing program at Southern Pacific Railroad resulted in an annualized 71 percent decrease in accidents since its implementation.
Ultimately, employees want a safe working space where their co-workers are performing at the highest level. Drug testing programs improve worker morale and productivity, decrease absenteeism and accidents, and lead to better employee health. OPENonline offers a comprehensive suite of drug testing products and services that help companies make informed decisions about prospective and current employees.