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Employee Drug Testing Pros and Cons

REPOST – ARTICLE SOURCE:
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/employee-drug-testing-pros-cons-1276.html

The subject of drug testing in the workplace is a controversial one for businesses. Many arguments exist supporting both sides of the debate. Some business owners feel they have every right to randomly test employees for illicit drug use, while others think it unnecessary if they hire the right staff in the first place.

Pros of Workplace Drug Testing

Workers who abuse drugs pose a safety risk in the workplace. Businesses often face a higher exposure to liability due to drug-related work accidents. According to the United States Department of Labor, 10 to 20 percent of U.S. workers involved in fatal on-the-job accidents tested positive for illicit drugs and alcohol. Employers often help employees caught abusing drugs by placing in them in recovery programs at the company’s expense. This benefits the employer who can use the experienced employee (after completion of a recovery program) without having to hire and train someone new. The employee benefits from the freedom from drug addiction as well as financially, emotionally, and spiritually.

Cons of Workplace Drug Testing

Random workplace drug testing may foster resentment among employees who feel this practice violates their right to privacy, in addition to negatively affecting productivity and costing the business money in lost revenues. Workers against drug testing in the workplace often threaten to sue their employer for violations. Even if the plaintiff loses the case, the business still stands to lose money from downtime needed to fight the case and attorney fees. Implementing a random drug-testing program can cost thousands of dollars and may result in no one testing positive.

Impairment Testing

Impairment testing presents a possible alternative to drug testing in the workplace that may end the drug-testing debate altogether. These tests could prove more effective than random drug testing because they test a person’s current state. The cognitive impairment test measures brain function, such as hand-eye coordination, reaction time, quick decision-making ability, and other indicators of cognitive ability. Other emerging techniques include ocular tests that measure tiny eye movements to determine whether a person is impaired, and agility tests that measure movements and use metrics to calculate the level of impairment.

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