The Importance of Drug & Alcohol Testing in the Workplace

There has been a lot of debate over the issue of testing for drugs and alcohol in the workplace; however, when it comes down to it, most business owners would agree that a zero tolerance policy is usually the best policy. There simply is no room for drugs or alcohol to be used while people are working. While occasionally drinking, or even some recreational use of drugs during private time, may not affect a person’s work, if they bring it into the workplace it can compromise the safety of others within the business. There are many safety issues that may arise if a staff member is under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work.

According to the Trades Union Congress, some of the problems that can, and do, appear, include loss of ability to exercise a skill, impaired alertness, and impaired concentration. These all raise serious issues, partly because they can affect other employees. It is also important to remember that prescription drugs can also be misused at times, leading to impairment. There are a wide range of legal drugs that can affect the way a person works, and there are medical conditions that may require the use of some drugs. Thus, a workplace has to be pragmatic when they determine their drug abuse policy to make sure that it is fair and honest to all.

How Widespread Is The Problem?

There have, perhaps unsurprisingly, been few studies that have found actual figures for those who abuse substances at work, but a survey conducted by DrugScope and Alcohol Concern did find that 60% of employers stated they had at some point had issues with employees drinking, and another 27% reported drug misuse was an issue. Therefore, while the numbers may not be ideally documented, it does seem like a legitimate concern for employers.

Testing Options

There are many ways for companies that are concerned about drugs and alcohol to go about testing. One way is by ordering drug testing kits and alcohol breathalysers to have on hand when the need arises. These can be easily obtained from firms including the makers of the Lifestyle Kiosk. They can be administered in the workplace, and make testing quick and easy. By performing random and necessary tests as needed, an employer can ensure that all of his or her workers are safe at all times. This will reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace.

Legalities

With all this in mind, companies need to be prepared to test for drugs and alcohol, when they have reasonable grounds to suspect an employee may be using either while on the job. In order to protect all employees, anyone doing so should be removed. According to government regulations, employees must consent to test for drugs, but this consent is easy to obtain – if employees sign a full contractual health and safety policy when they are first hired. Usually this contract states that employees can be tested at random, or if there are grounds for doing so. They can still refuse to be tested, but the company may then employ disciplinary action. The bottom line is that employers have a duty of care – to all their employees.