Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Points to Consider When Adopting Drug Testing Rules

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Points to Consider When Adopting Drug Testing Rules

Article excerpt

Drug and substance abuse costs U.S. industry millions of dollars each year. This abuse can contribute to an increase in employee absences, accidents on the job, violence toward other employees, and workman's compensation expenses. Employee theft to finance a drug habit and corporate liability from an intoxicated employee acting legally as a company agent are other corporate considerations. Families are also affected as spouses of abusers must deal with a drug-addicted wife or husband.

In an attempt to eliminate many of these problems, American businesses are increasingly relying on drug testing as a course of action for screening new and existing employees. However, there are a number of things which the company must take into consideration when initiating such policy: Legal liabilities may exist for the company which does not provide a written corporate policy to conduct drug testing. Test results have been known to yield false positive readings for individuals not taking drugs and negative readings for those who are. Privacy is governed by corporate policy with legal guidelines. More invasive testing, such as direct observations of collection, may be required by the policy if reasonable suspicion exists that the sample is not valid. The policy should take into account the immediate risks of not knowing the drug-free status of a key employee when lives are at stake; for example, a railroad brakeman must change a track for a commuter train with split-second efficiency or alertness. Samples testing positives, whether false or true, have to be tested more comprehensively.

The key to an effective drug testing policy is communication and fairness. This includes an understanding between employees and management that false positives do occur and that no stigma will be attached to such a finding, that all test results will be handled confidentially and honestly, and that actual drug abuse will be screened and caught. …

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