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Drug Testing In The Workplace Is A Good Thing, Right?


Drug-Test-ROHWe never liked working next to people that did drugs. This may be a bit of an over generalization on our part, but we always felt if someone was willing to break the law to get high, what would they do on the job? Studies have shown that smoking pot, for instance, means a person may not be as industrious on the job, as well asaffecting memory, attention and learning skills for weeks.

Of all fatal accidents, upwards of 20% are caused by drivers that are under the influence of a drug at the time of the accident. If someone is willing to drive under the influence, why wouldn’t they work under the influence? According to OSHA:

Furthermore, research indicates that between 10 and 20 percent of the nation’s workers who die on the job test positive for alcohol or other drugs. In fact, industries with the highest rates of drug use are the same as those at a high risk for occupational injuries, such as construction, mining, manufacturing and wholesale.

OSHA recognizes that impairment by drug or alcohol use can constitute an avoidable workplace hazard and that drug-free workplace programs can help improve worker safety and health and add value to American businesses. OSHA strongly supports comprehensive drug-free workforce programs, especially within certain workplace environments, such as those involving safety-sensitive duties like operating machinery.

A comprehensive drug-free workforce approach includes five components—a policy, supervisor training, employee education, employee assistance, and drug testing. Such programs, especially when drug testing is included, must be reasonable and take into consideration employee rights to privacy.

We want to focus a moment on drug testing here. We believe that working while under the influence of a drug or alcohol is dangerous. It is generally dangerous to others as well as to the person.

But what if there was another danger? A danger to where your rights could be violated?

Enter into the room laws that are being proposed to test judges for drug use.

In the last year, legislators in Ohio, Oklahoma and Puerto Rico have introduced bills attempting to subject judges and other state officials to drug testing, according to the National Center for State Courts.

In Ohio, legislators proposed mandatory drug testing for supreme court justices, state legislators and others, including recipients of Troubled Asset Relief Program money. A bill in Oklahoma, which would establish mandatory drug testing for TARP recipients and all “state elected officials,” would require those declining testing to submit to substance abuse programs. And in Puerto Rico, proposed legislation requires those nominated for a judicial office to submit a hair sample for drug testing. All these bills have been carried over into 2012.

At first these proposals struck us a being rather odd. Then we realized that many government jobs require workers to be drug tested. There is a push in this country for those who receive government assistance to be tested for drugs in order to demonstrate the money being given to the individual is not going to support a drug habit.

If government employees are required to take drug tests, why not judges?

William D. Missouri, a retired judge in Prince George’s County, Md., and chair-elect of the ABA’s Judicial Division, says, “My suspicions are that this is another attempt to erode the independence of the judiciary.” Missouri, who says he finds no rational basis for any of the legislation, planned to raise the issue with the Judicial Division Council at the ABA’s midyear meeting in early February.

Frankly, we find his “erode the independence of the judiciary,” to be rather weak and shallow. For years judges have ruled testing to be legal for government employees. It seems to us that Judge Missouri is actually saying the judges are above the law and aren’t under the same requirements the rest of us follow.

Are there many judges who sit on a bench high or recovering from a hangover? We don’t know.

What we do know is that a judge who is using or is an alcoholic cannot be trusted to dispense justice with a clear mind.

That, and that alone, should be reason to drug test the judges.

It is not an attack on the independence of the judiciary. It is an upholding of the trust of the citizens.

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