A strong drug and alcohol testing program delivers a win-win for businesses and their employees – boosting safety and morale while lowering healthcare and workers’ compensation costs.

All companies can gain benefits from a testing program – whether pre-screening job candidates or periodically checking long-term employees’ wellbeing. Creating a workplace policy establishes clear guidelines for workers and sets liability boundaries for companies. 

Some businesses choose to skip testing programs, leaving potential savings on the table. Employee substance abuse, which results in accidents, high absenteeism and lost productivity, costs U.S. businesses more than $140 billion annually, reported Occupational Health & Safety Magazine. In addition, about 9% of working adults struggle with substance abuse issues, including marijuana, pain medication and alcohol, according to the National Safety Council.

A workplace drug testing program is a must for companies that want to protect their employees and themselves. “Writing an official policy can be daunting, but an experienced drug testing firm can offer the necessary experience and support to make the process easier,” said Tim Thoelecke, Jr., founder of InOut Labs.

Reaping the rewards

The benefits of creating a successful drug testing program are numerous, from keeping employees safe and happy on the job to helping companies corral costs and boost productivity. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that businesses with effective drug-free workplace programs say they experience higher morale and productivity with reductions in accidents, absenteeism, turnover rates, and downtime. 

Those employers also confirm their employees and family members experience better health, which reduces healthcare costs. 

Research validates many of those benefits. After launching drug-testing programs, about 19% of organizations said they saw an improvement in productivity while 5% reported a 50% decrease in workers’ compensation incidence rates, according to a poll by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association.

In addition, some companies with drug-free programs can qualify for incentives to cut costs for short- and long-term disability and workers’ compensation, according to NIDA

Assessing your risks, asking the right questions

To determine the most appropriate drug-testing program, businesses must first assess the safety risks involved with their workers. 

For example, companies involved in trucking, manufacturing and construction typically deal with additional physical safety concerns versus retail shops. Often, a written policy is required by federal regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), or to qualify for government contracts and insurance discounts. And if your business is regulated by DOT, your written drug policy must include many specific requirements, Thoelecke noted.

Before starting a drug testing program, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends asking several questions, such as: 

  • Who will receive testing? 
  • When will tests be given? 
  • What substances will you test for? 
  • Who will do the testing? 
  • What are the legal rights of workers who receive a positive test result?
  • What are the consequences for a failed drug test?

Consider the circumstances for testing, too. Many organizations require pre-employment testing as well as testing during workers’ annual physical exams. Post-accident testing can help determine whether drug or alcohol use contributed to a workplace accident. Reasonable suspicion and for-cause testing can be used for employees who show noticeable signs of being unfit for work or who have a documented pattern of unsafe work behavior, according to SAMHSA

Education is key to recognizing those unsafe behaviors, so employers must build education and training into their programs and then establish procedures to get help for an employee when necessary. 

Most state laws allow employers to randomly drug test employees. However, the guidelines vary by state, so experts advise seeking professional help and consulting with an attorney to ensure compliance. 

InOut Labs offers several DOT and non-DOT policies and can create custom workplace drug and alcohol testing policies to accommodate any company’s needs. Order your InOut Labs drug testing policy today or contact us for more information.