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Workplace Drug Testing Overview

Holly Hicks,

Workplace Drug Testing Overview

Drug testing in the workplace has been a hot topic for corporations and worker’s rights groups for quite some time now. Both sides have legitimate arguments for the inclusion and exclusion of these tests and depending on which side of the coin you may be working on, you may find yourself for or against this common practice as well.

Before making your own decisions though, let’s first go over what exactly is entailed in workplace drug testing.

There are two types of drug testing that are done today:  pre-employment testing and random testing after someone is hired.

Pre-Employment Testing

Pre-employment drug testing is typically the most common practice for businesses, as it is basically acts as a final requirement before someone is officially hired. If a place of employment requires someone to pass a drug testing before being hired, it is that businesses right to do so, just as it is the potential employees right to turn down the testing as well. If an employee should turn down the drug test though, it almost always leads to them not getting the job.

Random Testing

While just about anyone can agree that pre-employment drug testing is a fair practice, random drug testing is a much more hotly debated topic. Essentially if you are hired into a position at a place of business, you opt in to the criteria that you may be subject to a random drug test at any point in time of your employment.

Random drug testing for skilled positions such as driving, flight or heavy equipment operations has been commonplace for many years now and justifiably so. Whenever you have a job where you are in a position of potentially harming yourself or others, random drug testing is a highly used practice.

In addition to the safety of others, one of the primary arguments for having a random drug testing policy at a place of business is for the safety of the worker. This includes limiting the amount of workplace accidents, and also to help any workers that may have substance abuse problems.

While the intentions of employers may be noble, to many people random drug testing is a violation of privacy and an attack on their rights and freedoms.

There has been a history of false positives and outright targeting of specific employees over the years that have amounted to nothing less than harassment.

It is for these reasons that many are against random drug tests, and instead believe for there to be a better course of action in place.


While drug testing is initially implemented for the overall safety of others in the workplace, almost all workers see it in a negative light. The feeling of powerlessness and uncertainty affects morale, and can sometimes overpower the positives that arise from workplace drug tests.

It is clear to see that the ethics of drug testing in the workplace is an issue that will not be disappearing anytime soon. The arguments from both sides are logical and until something or someone is able to change the viewpoints of both sides so that some kind of compromise can be made, this discussion will continue on.

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