Many non-federally regulated employers understand drug and alcohol testing to be an important part of their business. However, beyond pre-employment and post-incident testing, random drug testing is dismissed for a number of reasons. Why is this? Naturally, if employees appear productive and cooperative, it would seem that there is little reason to test them for drugs and alcohol, especially since many employers also believe drug testing otherwise good employees would be a blow to morale.
Unfortunately, over 50% of alcohol abusers could be described as high-functioning and many users of controlled substances never manifest empirical signs of intoxication that could warrant the reasonable suspicion of a supervisor or family member… until an incident occurs.
Alcohol and drug use among employees is expensive! The potential effects from illicit drug use and alcohol abuse range from lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries, fatalities, theft and low employee morale, to an increase in health insurance premiums, increased legal liabilities, and more workers' compensation costs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) have calculated these factors cost U.S. employers more than $276 billion each year.
And there's more. Alcoholism is estimated to cost 500 million lost workdays annually. Substance abusers are 3.5 times more likely to be involved in workplace accidents. It is also estimated that up to 40% of industrial fatalities and 47% of workplace injuries can be linked to alcohol consumption. Health-care costs for employees with alcohol problems are at least twice those for other employees. And finally, people with drug or alcohol problems were more likely to report having worked for three or more employers in the previous year.
Illicit drug use and alcohol abuse affect all employees, not just the users. A survey sponsored by NIDA found that drug-using employees are 2.5 times more likely to have absences of eight days or more, 2.2 times more likely to request early dismissal or time off, 3 times more likely to be late for work, and 5 times more likely to file a workers' compensation claim. If you think that drug testing will create feelings of unfairness, how much more ill will is generated by employers making accommodations un-productive or underproductive employees?
Moreover, according to the American Council for Drug Education, substance abusers don't have to use drugs or drink while at work to negatively impact their workplace. Compared to coworkers, substance abusers are 33% less productive and 10 times more likely to miss work.
On the contrary, there is evidence to suggest that a strong, consistent, and well-managed drug and alcohol testing program can provide a net reduction in expenses for many businesses. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) in 2011, their survey found the number of employers reporting high workers' compensation incidence rates fell by 50% after introducing drug testing. Additionally, SHRM reported that drug testing has been found to reduce insurance claims as much as 12%, first aid injury reports by 18%, accidents by 51%, and Experience Modification Rates (EMR) as much as 11.4%.
Congress passed a law in 1988 that required the maintenance of a “drug-free workplace” by any company that held significant government contracts or grants, and another federal law, passed in 1991, required drug and alcohol testing of “safety-sensitive” employees in private transportation companies. By 1996, a survey from the American Management Association found that more than 80 percent of its member companies had some form of drug testing, and two-thirds tested all new hires. Over a span of less than 20 years, employee drug testing had become the norm. According to a recent survey of almost 70,000 working adults from across the United States, 48.2 percent said that their employers performed drug screenings of some kind.
The cost of replacing an employee can range from 25% to 200% of their annual compensation. Add to this cost the additional legal and financial liabilities attached to a dismissal that is associated with drug use or a workplace injury. If you could significantly reduce your turn-over and risk liabilities, would it be worth it investigate whether a random drug and alcohol testing program could be beneficial to your business?
Or give us a call at 503-479-6082 and we can help you evaluate whether a managed, random drug and alcohol testing program would be a value to your company. It might not be, and if that’s the case, we will tell you so. Our first priority is helping to educate our clients and visitors, regardless of whether they decide to let us help them manage their drug and alcohol testing programs and policies. Give us the opportunity to educate you.