Drug Testing and Workplace Safety

With more states adding themselves to the list of those who allow medical and recreational marijuana, some employers are trying to decide whether they should change their drug testing policies to match these changing attitudes. Obviously, there are employees who are all for this, but there is one major reason for not doing so – workplace safety.

While drug testing is mandatory in some sectors, it is not in others. However, there is plenty of evidence that shows that drug testing does provide improved workplace safety. One study showed that employers who did not have a drug testing policy had higher rates of workers’ compensation rates than those organizations that had a policy in place.

Drug testing was originally implemented as a way to curb employees using drugs and alcohol while on the job, and for the most part, it has worked. However, there are still plenty of employees who pass those initial drug tests and then have no problem smoking a joint the night before a big day at work. Depending on how much the employee smokes, and how late it occurs, this could mean that the employee is still feeling the effects when they arrive at work. This means that your other employees could be in danger, without any of them even realizing it.

Why the New Laws Don’t Matter

Regardless of the laws concerning marijuana, it is still the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace for every employee. Pre-employment drug testing and random testing increase the likelihood of a safer working environment as employees are aware of the consequences of failing a drug test. If those policies are removed or altered,an employee who injures another employee or even a client opens your organization up to lawsuits for failing to provide that safe work environment.

If you are serious about keeping your employees and clients as safe as possible, your existing drug testing policies should remain in effect. As long as you are upfront about your requirements prior to hiring, every employee working for your company will understand that failed drug tests are grounds for being let go. If employees don’t like that, they are always free to move on to companies that don’t have these policies in place – you, however, will be protecting yourself and your business.

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