More and more employees are failing drug tests

| March 15, 2017

Employers may raise their eyebrows at a recent study that reveals an increase in the number of employees failing drug tests. A Quest Diagnostics analysis of 8.5 million urine, saliva, and hair workplace drug tests reveals that the number of workers who tested positive between 2003 and 2013 increased by 5.7 percent relatively year-over-year.

The report has wider implications for companies that employ workers with a history of drug abuse. In the opinion of Dr. Barry Sample, science and technology director at Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions, employers should know about the potential for drug use by employees and the risks it presents.

Legalization of marijuana is giving employers a hard time

Quest Diagnostics attributes the growth in drug use to the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana. And this growth can make hiring difficult. In Allen County, Ohio, employers faced difficulty in filling some positions as 70 percent of the applicants failed drug tests. In Greater Cincinnati (covering Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana), employees who tested positive were involved in accidents like damaging property with forklifts and heavy machinery and crashing company vehicles.

According to findings from the U.S. Department of Justice, more than $193 billion were lost to crime, poor health, and decreased productivity due to the illicit use of drugs, with the majority of the costs attributed to lost productivity.

report by Working Partners for an Alcohol- and Drug-Free Workplace revealed that 13.1 million drug users and heavy drinkers were employed in 2007. The accommodation, food services, and construction industries hired most of these workers.

Legalization of marijuana is attributed as the reason behind more number of employees using drugs.

The number of employees who have tested positive for drug use has risen  in the past decade. From dkalo.

 Employees find ways around drug tests

One would think that drug tests are then a safety net for employers who want to steer clear of illegal drug users, but employees seem to have found a way around drug testing. Synthetic urine is now readily available at gas stations and come with the guarantee of a zero percent fail rate.

With employers’ right to order drug tests subject to some guidelines, lost productivity has moved some companies to design programs that seek to help workers struggling with drug abuse. ChemDesign, based in Marinette, Wisconsin, trains its supervisors to check for signs of drug use at the workplace, including spotting gum wrappers or soda bottles and other items commonly used to stash drugs.

At the same time, companies are also willing to rehabilitate employees back into the workplace according to Brian Bourgeois, human resource and employee development manager at ChemDesign. Legislation’s support of sick employees greatly affects employers with drug-free workplace policies. One such law is The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which is applicable to both public and private sector employers. It mandates a covered employer to grant 12 weeks of unpaid leave to the eligible employee during a 12-month period in light of the employee’s incapacity to work due to health issues.

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Category: Office Hazards

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