As we have previously discussed, the support for workplace drug testing policies is overwhelming. Why would employees care so much about a drug-free workplace? A reasonable assumption: employees who do not use drugs are concerned about personal safety and the added burden of accommodating the lost productivity of those who use. “Clean” employees can tell you anecdotally what statistics demonstrate. Specifically, that drug users:
- Cause four times more workplace injuries to themselves
- File five times more workers’ compensation claims
- Experience five times more non-work-related injuries resulting in lost work time
- Are at least one-third less productive than non-drug-using employees.
This economic impact certainly affected the growth in workplace drug testing from three percent of the Fortune 200 companies in the 1980s to nearly 100 percent a decade later. A Fortune Top 5 former executive estimated that each drug user cost his company $3,500 annually.
A company can test its employees for any number of drugs. The most common, a five-panel drug test, detects cannaboids (marijuana), cocaine, amphetamines, opiates and phencyclidine (PCP). Results are usually produced within 24 hours and reliable “rapid” tests (not found in the local drug store) can produce results in ten minutes.
Implementing a companywide drug testing policy is not a cumbersome process, but does require some legal consultation. Any policy regarding drug testing must be written out and should outline the purpose and implementation of said testing. The “management” team includes a Designated Employer Representative (DER), Medical Review Officer (MRO), the collection agency and the laboratory.
The DER serves as the sole contact between the company and the laboratory. He or she receives the results of the testing and is responsible for coordinating contact between the MRO, the collection agency and the employee.
The MRO is a licensed physician (MD or DO) with specific training and certification who reviews all results received by the lab. MROs often work directly with laboratories. Their purpose is to certify both positive and negative results, notifying donors of positive tests of their rights, reviewing the results with them and clarifying that no prescription medications which may cause false positives are being used.
The collection agency serves as an agent of the laboratory. It provides certified collectors for both regulated and non-regulated situations. The collector secures the collection site, performs the collection and provides secure transfer of specimens to the laboratory. Collections may be performed on- or off-site and are fairly economical—usually $35 to $50 per test.
What we have seen at IWIRC over the past four years bears out the statistics: Companies that do not test for illicit drug use have workplaces full of employees with illegal substances in their bodies, causing higher injury rates. Compared to the productivity costs and the general willingness of employees to have a drug-free workplace, the economic benefit is apparent and drug-free workplace policies just make sense. IBI