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Drug Testing in the Workplace

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On current trends within two years it will be almost impossible for recreational drug users to get a job with larger companies. Drug testing at work is probably the single most effective weapon we have against adult substance abuse. It is a proven, low cost strategy which identifies those needing help, reduces demand, cuts accidents and sick leave, improves attendance and increases productivity. (Half page feature by Dr Patrick Dixon, Director Global Change Ltd, originally published in the Times 5/11/98 but even more sharply relevant today).

Yet drug testing is (or rather was) highly controversial: it penalises users with positive drug tests that can bear little or no relation to work performance, encourages knee-jerk dismissal and discrimination at interview. It costs money, invades privacy and smacks of authoritarianism.

Despite all this, almost overnight it has become fashionable to talk of testing millions of people at work for both alcohol and drugs. Just over six months ago the idea seemed so extreme that the government cut it out of the White Paper altogether - with small concessions for prisons and roadside.

In a dramatic policy shift, drugs czar Keith Halliwell and government Ministers have started encouraging drug testing by employers. They are following a quiet revolution, largely unreported because firms have been scared of drug tests by bad publicity.

The government's own Forensic Science Agency alone carried out over a million workplace drug tests last year, with a rush of interest from transport, construction, manufacturing and financial services industries. Last month the International Petroleum Exchange joined London Transport and many others in random drug testing.

This stampede to test follows spectacular drug testing success in America when many had declared the mega-war against drugs all but lost. The drugs industry accounts for 8% of all international trade according to the UN. Education, customs, police, crop destruction and prison sentences have failed to deliver so drug testing has become highly attractive, even at the cost of civil liberties.

80% of all large companies already spend over £200m a year testing for drugs at work, affecting 40% of the US work force. By 2005 up to 80% of all workers will be covered by drug tests.

But Britain also has a significant and growing problem with addiction. 8% of men and 2% of women in Britain abuse drugs or alcohol, costing at least £3bn a year in accidents and absence alone.

Every office, factory, train operator, airline, construction company and hospital is affected with serious risks to public health and profitability. Workplace drug testing in America is being forced on employers for economic and safety reasons. Drug companies that don't test will go bust. Their insurance premiums will go through the roof.

US studies show that substance abusers (including alcohol) are 33% less productive, three times as likely to be late, four times as likely to hurt others at work or themselves, five times as likely to sue for compensation, and ten times as likely to miss work.

When the State of Ohio introduced random drug testing they found absenteeism dropped 91%, there were 88% less problems with supervisors and 97% decrease in on-the-job injuries. These results are so striking that many companies are now screening job applicants.

One plastics company realised many workers were taking amphetamines to keep awake after they lengthened shifts to twelve hours. Staff found tell-tale powder residues and scratch marks on equipment. They estimated
that 20% of the workforce were taking drugs. After random drug testing was introduced drug-taking fell to negligible levels.

A Wisconsin cardboard factory was contacted recently by their insurers who were worried about high levels of injuries. Random drug testing was introduced and accidents fell 72% the following year, with an 80% decrease in days lost as a result.

Health and safety will be the driving force at first in the UK. Take doctors: a recent report in the Lancet revealed that 37% of male junior doctors were using cannabis and 14% cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, LSD, ecstasy, magic mushrooms or other substances. The figure for women was 12%. But that's just the ones willing to admit it.

The BMA's own figures suggest up to 10% of all doctors may abuse either alcohol or illegal drugs, including cocaine, crack and heroin. That's almost 10,000 doctors, treating perhaps 200,000 patients every day. Do you want to be operated on by a surgeon who is suffering from withdrawal? In an operating theatre with two anaesthetists, a consultant and two junior doctors there is a 50% risk that one of the team is a substance abuser.

I am appalled at the irresponsability of the BMA, who have long been opposed to random testing of doctors. They say we are sensible enough to come forward for help, and those that don't are informed upon. Both these claims are complete fiction, judging by the vast gap between numbers with dependency and the few who have been identified. The BMA's resistance to random testing of doctors is scandalous and no doubt will be over-ruled soon.

We will never know how many have died under the knife of an intoxicated surgeon or as a result of a physician's drug-clouded mind. Doctors don't like admitting errors, even in court long after the event, by which time evidence of substance abuse has vanished.

If you're too drunk or doped to drive, or drive a train, you shouldn't be operating - nor working a crane or cement mixer for that matter. Nor should you be defending someone in court nor making huge financial decisions on which other people's future will depend.

Testing is cheap. Breathalysers cost £40 with virtually no running costs while £30 urine tests for drugs only have to be carried out on a few to be effective. For example, London Transport tests just 5% of drivers a year.

That means each worker is checked on average once every twenty years. Hardly a mass invasion of privacy, yet more than enough to be a powerful deterrent. In America positive test rates have fallen from 13.6% to 4.9% in a decade. This is a method that works.

However, random testing is barbaric unless introduced sensitively as part of a comprehensive package of education and access to confidential treatment. The primary aim should not be to sack, but to discourage abuse, offer help, to treat. The most effective programmes are those where the workforce approves a humane, compassionate and fair anti-drugs policy. However those who place others lives at serious risk must expect to face the consequences.

There are many unresolved problems with testing: for example cannabis tests are almost useless with positive tests weeks after use. What blood levels are acceptable for illegal drugs? Who should be tested? How often and what action should be taken?

Some argue for tests only where performance is poor. But by then a fellow worker may have lost an arm, a leg, an eye or a hand - a patient her own life. The aim of testing is to prevent mistakes, not to allocate blame after the event.

One thing is clear: drug and alcohol testing will continue to spread fast regardless of government support, as the most practical and cost effective way to strengthen existing drugs and alcohol policies at work. It will be introduced well or very badly. Either we take hold of the issue now or the issue will take hold of us.


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Thanks for promoting with Facebook LIKE or Tweet. Really interested to hear your views. Post below.

Bob Warburton
June 01, 2015 - 20:15

Rather than simply accepting the right to institute testing - because it is becoming so prevalent - is there any balance between the rights of the employer to require alcohol and drug testing and the rights of the employee to privacy?

Of course the rights of the individual should be protected. There are very few who would argue against that.

A contract of employment is a contract to have certain work performed in exchange for payment and the employer should expect performance that is sufficient to perform those employment obligations. If the job can be performed while under the influence of drugs and without danger to the employee or others then is the employee entitled to the privilege and protection of privacy so that the employee’s private life (and drug taking in the workplace) does not come under scrutiny? The argument goes that provided the work is done to at least an acceptable standard the employer has no right to expect anything more.

Insurance contracts require utmost good faith, “uberrimae fidei”. That is because one party, the insured, has greater knowledge of the risk and is therefore required to make disclosure to the insurer so the insurer can consider whether or not to take on the risk.

The question then is, why is that any different to a contract of employment? The employer is responsible for the health and safety of everyone who comes onto the worksite or does work for the employer. The employer is entitled to know the risks that any particular employee might introduce into the workplace in order that the employer might satisfy their obligations to all.

There is little question in my mind that the employee is entitled to privacy and a private life outside of the work environment. The issue as to the right to privacy, is where the conduct of the employee is likely to, or possibly will, impinge upon the workplace environment. The employer has an obligation to all those (employees, invitees or visitors) who access the workplace environment. The employer has a tortious duty of care to visitors and invitees and an implied or specific duty to employees by virtue of the contractual arrangements (normally an employment agreement) to provide a safe workplace.

In order to effectively manage those obligations it is incumbent upon the employer to reasonably ascertain risks that persons attending the employment site might encounter. That obligation will extend to those risks that are reasonably foreseeable. Where there is a risk of misadventure arising from the use or misuse of substances by employees then employers have an obligation to militate against those potential mishaps and protect the attendees to the workplace.

If that includes testing employees for substances which could detrimentally affect their performance then that is an obligation that the employer must undertake – at least in an economic and managed way. Economically that might involve random rather then workforce testing. It is implicit in the employment agreement that the employee will submit to testing as reasonably required in order to ensure that the obligation of the employer to those visiting the workplace can be carried out.

If there is no obligation on the employee to provide information or truthful information about their private activities which could have an effect on the workplace or such information cannot practicably be obtained, at least the employer must have the ability to ascertain any potential difficulties that might arise.

Of course there will always be those cases where the employer employee relationship is damaged as a result of positive testing – but resulting from perfectly legitimate substance use. Any damage to the relationship and resulting mistrust must be accepted as part of the necessary carrying out of the employer’s obligations.

Notwithstanding the obligations of the employer there remain limitations on the rights of the employer to carry out workplace drug testing. Generally these are:-
1. The employer must have good grounds to suspect that the employee’s behaviour is an actual or potential source of harm to others
2. Any testing must be in accordance with a published drug and alcohol testing policy and not unnecessarily infringe in the rights of the employee
3. Any drug testing must be with the informed consent of the employee
4. Where there is a refusal to supply a test it is usual for the policy to specify the consequences and disciplinary process to follow such a refusal

The rights of the employee appear to be adequately protected. The employer must be able to show good grounds to suspect and actual or potential harm to be entitled to implement drug and / or alcohol testing. That right does not occur in a vacuum. It must be spelt out in a policy document, which the employee has been made aware of. Even then the employee may refuse but may then face the ramifications made known in the policy document. That might involve training or ultimately, dismissal.

The rights of the employee to privacy should be fully protected where there is no effect or no potential effect on the workplace. With respect to the suggestion that impaired employees effectively carrying out their duties should be immune from testing – that simply ignores the duties of the employer to the safety of all those who enter the workplace and takes no account of the potential for harm and the employer’s responsibility for foreseeable consequences of allowing impaired employees to carry out their duties in the workplace. The rights of employees to privacy need to be adequately protected but those employees should be subject to testing where the employee poses an actual or potential threat of harm to others in the workplace environment.

Dave D
May 28, 2015 - 23:40

People are addicted to a sugar high which research shows is a dangerous “drug”. Anything is a drug, from gambling, to porn, etc.. Humanity is insane. It’s like my grandpa claiming donuts are good for you. Do people think we’re that stupid? How about this, don’t do drugs period, whether it’s over the counter, prescribed, processed foods or ignorantly prohibited abusing your first amendment right. War on drugs = war on first amendment.
This guy here, doesn’t trust anybody when intelligence is always rejected for those who are stupid or who don’t care about themselves – Matthew 24:9
When people can careless about their own health, who openly admit it, you think they will care about mine? God or Energy from the sun allows mankind to exist and mankind created Satan and you’re all Satanists, the one world global religion hidden behind whatever label you people use whether it's Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist – Genesis 8:21 (negative energy = evil, and you all create negativity)

Dave D
May 28, 2015 - 23:36

People are addicted to a sugar high which research shows is a dangerous “drug”. Humanity is insane. It’s like my grandpa claiming donuts are good for you. Do people think we’re that stupid? How about this, don’t do drugs period, whether it’s over the counter, prescribed, processed foods or ignorantly prohibited abusing your first amendment right.
This guy here, doesn’t trust anybody when intelligence is always rejected for those who are stupid or who don’t care about themselves – Matthew 24:9
When people can careless about their own health, who openly admit it, you think they will care about mine? God or Energy from the sun allows mankind to exist and mankind created Satan and you’re all Satanists, the one world global religion hidden behind whatever label you people use whether it's Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist – Genesis 8:21 (negative energy = evil, and you all create negativity)

Dave D
May 28, 2015 - 22:58

As soon as an employer sends out information claiming that MY health matters to them, watch out! How about advising people to see their doctor letting them worry about people’s health, who’s already going to push drugs on them you people claim is medicine?

War on drugs and drug testing = war on the first, fourth and 13th amendment.

Dave D
May 28, 2015 - 22:52

and let me add that It’s so obvious that other people clearly don’t care about your health otherwise it wouldn’t be a focus of you OPENLY trying to abuse it or prohibit them. How about minding your own business or respecting other people’s privacy when you clearly desire yours? Matthew 23 – A warning against Hypocrisy. And when someone becomes a liability for having to take too many days off because of their own poor health, you let them go, DUH. Humanity is openly showing their selfishness and lack of empathy, you people are HORRIBLE sales people with your attempt to "care" with drug testing. So keep showing your ignorance, stupidity and Satanism

A L
May 24, 2015 - 03:52

The biggest issue in regards to drug testing in the work place that this article fails to properly address is privacy. Patrick Dixon says that it is “hardly a mass invasion of privacy” due to one company who is likely to only test each person once every twenty years. But what about the company that tests all employees on a regular basis? There is nothing in most contracts that tell you how much of your private life details your employer wants to know about you, or how much you should be telling them. Each individual’s ethical views are not taken into consideration for this. With a utilitarian, you would need to convince that the most amount of good comes out of invading their privacy, in the way of preventing work accidents and even deaths.

The issue with drug testing is it invades employee’s private lives, and this just doesn’t necessarily mean for the use of illegal drugs as drug tests don’t just detect illegal drugs, they also can detect prescription drugs and legal drugs. An employee can be taking prescription medicine for a health issue that doesn’t affect their work, the evidence of this will come up in a drug test and they will have to either explain themselves, or face their employer believing they are using illegal drugs. They may not want to tell the employer about their health issue because it could be something they are unwilling to share with their employer. Most people do not want to share personal information with people unless they choose to, as they will especially object to sharing private personal information that is of no relevance to their job or their working ability. They could even be taking medication for something they are embarrassed about, and having to share this information with their employer could make them feel uncomfortable and have an adverse effect on their emotions while at work. This is further supported by an article by the American Civil Liberties Union, which says “Urinalysis reveals not only the presence of illegal drugs, but also the existence of many other physical and medical conditions, including genetic predisposition to disease – or pregnancy.” (American Civil Liberties Union, Privacy in America: Workplace drug testing). The article also fails to touch base on the requirements set forth for an employer to carry out drug testing – that you should have a clause in the employment agreement of staff that work in safety-sensitive roles (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, August 2013).

Employees usually do not take on a job believing that their employers will also be gaining knowledge of what they do outside of their work. The issue here, is where does the invasion of privacy stop? One of the reasons given for carrying out drug testing on employees is that drug use has been found to cause impairment on the workers ability in way of being less productive. There are lots of factors in someone’s private life that may cause you to be less productive at work than just the use of drugs. You could be working a second job on your days off as your family is struggling financially, without wanting to tell your employer of all the details of your private life the employee may be subjected to a drug test. It is a concern to wonder if you will soon be required to provide details of all activities an employee takes on outside of work in case your employer determines that any of these impair you working ability, and so wishes you to discontinue any of these, or if in the eye of a job opportunity, decides to not hire you instead. The article from the American Civil Liberties Union also discusses how it is an invasion of privacy because its tests for what you do in private, which does not necessarily impair your work ability, “Furthermore, drug tests are not work-related because they do not measure on-the-job impairment. A positive drug test only reveals that a drug was ingested at some time in the past. Nor do they distinguish between occasional and habitual use. Drug testing is designed to detect and punish conduct that is usually engaged in off-duty and off the employer's premises - that is, in private. Employers who conduct random drug tests on workers who are not suspected of using drugs are policing private behaviour that has no impact on job performance.” (American Civil Liberties Union, Privacy in America: Workplace drug testing). I think that the business will need to show that people in their specific industry are impaired by the use of drugs at any point in time, and that it was directly related to accidents, more use of leave, and less productiveness.

(Open Polytechnic)

Linda
May 13, 2015 - 17:10

Making drug testing in the workplace compulsory is a huge risk to businesses. The most common definition of a drug is ‘any chemical a person takes into their system that affects the way the body works’ (Science Museum). However, this definition also includes prescription medicine, alcohol, caffeine, everyday aspirin, Panadol etc. and nicotine from cigarette smoking.
By making testing compulsory, businesses run the risk of alienating their workforce and causing some resentment with co-workers, especially if this is not done in a manner that has been discussed with their employees and as a result, they can see the risks that may be presented with drug abuse.
How do you determine the difference between someone on medication and therefore regularly takes a set amount of drugs and one who is a drug user? How would someone who takes prescription medicine feel if a test was positive due to the contents of the medicine they take, not because they abuse drugs?
In today’s society drug use is not confined to marijuana, cannabis, or cocaine but with the introduction of new synthetic drugs (undetected by traditional drug testing), it may mean that companies are spending far too much on a test that will not deliver the information they require. Compulsory or random drug testing is not the answer. If employers really understand and know their workforce they should be able to detect problems with individuals and work with them to address the issues. This does not ‘tar everyone with the same brush’, but allows respect for the overall workforce and a more discrete way of dealing with individuals who are causing concern. An example is the plastics company from the article – who introduced random drug testing with some success but failed to address the real issue of why their employees where taking amphetamines in the first place. They failed to understand the issues that occur with 12 hour shifts.
I agree that employees who are under the influence at work can pose a risk to other co-workers in certain jobs, but testing everyone is not the answer. Does drug use equal drug abuse and does it therefore mean impairment to do the job? (Business Ethics Module 3 2015). What about the individual who has 10 or more cups of coffee a day while at work – does he pose a risk to others while under the influence of caffeine? Some people do not show any effects to drugs they take. How can organisations monitor the effects of this individual on his work or the colleagues he works with? What about the smokers? Is all that nicotine affecting their work and their judgement?
How do we know what individuals take, as some drugs are unable to be tested? Businesses may feel they are spending resources wisely, but how many of their employees fall under the radar in terms of their drug use and go undetected? How much money is the company paying for these tests? Is it value for money? Are there other less intrusive ways to ensure a safe working environment for employees that lead to better production and higher returns and keeps the rights of the individual workers? Testing is NOT cheap if you intend to test every worker in your business, especially if the testing fails to show individuals, and takes away from the company profits.
The Health and Safety Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his/her employees" (Health and Safety Act 1974). In 2013, the then Metropolitan Police Chief made a speech calling for mandatory drug testing in all businesses, including teachers, nurses and transport drivers. He saw this as a deterrent for employees. Opponents claim this is a contravention of the Human Rights Act and are willing to test this in court if needed, and even if they lost, they estimate the damage to the business they are suing in terms of their status in the business world and their customer loyalty, could be very costly and also the possible loss of production and profits.
There are numerous questions that need to be addressed by businesses if they wish to bring in compulsory or random drug testing for employees. How robust would these practices and procedures need to be? Who would carry them out and what level of expertise do these people have to ensure reliability of their testing – especially for those already on medication? Most testing is done through a urine sample which can be quite distressing to individuals and undignified. How distressing could it be for an employee to have to take a breathalyser test on entering the workplace when signing on for their job?
Samantha Gluck (Employee Drug Testing Pros and Cons) suggests using a test called Impairment testing. It measures the employee’s reactions to certain co-ordination and reaction tests. It is less intrusive for the individual and may return more accurate results of a person’s current state and ability. She suggests that these type of tests would be more effective and would allow almost immediate feedback on the employee’s current ability or impairment and could be seen as a fairer way of addressing the issue.
There are numerous arguments for and against drug testing, whether it be compulsory or random, in business, but if employers are to continue to show support for their workers and treat them with respect, they need to look at alternate ways to ensure their workplace is a safe and healthy environment. You cannot argue that individuals under the influence of drugs can be a danger to colleague in the workplace, but a worker also has a right to privacy, especially if it does not impact on others or the job that person is performing. What about the individual who is an occasional user out-of-work and may feel discriminated against because out-of-work activities should remain private and has not impacted on work productivity?

Nick
January 20, 2015 - 17:27

Whilst many positive arguments presented here promoting drug testing, namely the increase of productivity and decrease in injury, questions still remain as to where the line is drawn when privacy is concerned. What freedom are we entitled to when protecting information regarding personal activities? And to what level of productivity we are obligated to give an employer?

Although the intension of drug testing is argued for moral purposes, it feels as if the whole notion of privacy is slowly slipping away. I agree that drug testing has validity when it comes to keeping workers safe from harm. However, is it possible that less intrusive options are available when testing workers ability to complete tasks where safety is an issue?

Drug testing was originally intended to address safety issues created by intoxicated workers, which presents the strongest argument. Everyone has the right to a safe work environment and in certain circumstances, the responsibility of the employer to prevent harm, can supersede that of respecting privacy. (Open Polytechnic, 2013, R2.1, p286) An intoxicated person can certainly put people in harm’s way and this is were having knowledge of drug use becomes relevant and therefore justifies the use of drug testing.

Based on this, it appears fair that all workers can be drug tested. Looking closer however, setting perimeters would ensure testing is used for the ethical purpose of preventing harm. Not all job’s pose the kind of risk that warrants drug testing, jobs that do, only need test the drugs that propose risks specific to that job. There are less intrusive ways of testing workers to see if they are a risk hazard, such dexterity or psychological tests. Therefore drug testing should only be used if it is the most effective option when trying to prevent harm in the workplace and the information obtained about workers, should only be used with the intention of preventing harm and creating a safe work environment, not punishing people (Open Polytechnic, 2013, M2, p41).

Sleep deprivation, relationship problems and stress can all jeopardize safety. These and other personal situations can affect a workers concentration and depending on the job, can put themselves and others at risk. So to reduce this kind of risk, will we be obligated to give information regarding sleep habits, relationship problems and other private information? As it stands now, I am tentative telling employers that I play and study music, as it is frowned upon not having a professional focus. So even in my profession (accountant), my private time is subject to the scrutiny.

Assumptions can’t be made that drug testing is completely responsible for the reduction in workplace accidents. It is possible better health and safety processes and regulations have been implemented. Companies could be manipulating figures to lower insurance premiums or perhaps the author has presented percentages here from certain industries to enhance the point. Regardless, to be deemed morally sound, certain criteria should be meet justifying a drug test as opposed to screening out people that don’t fit the company’s ideologies.

The other argument, is that productivity suffers from drug use. These unsubstantiated statistics here, suggest that productivity has increased since the introduction of drug testing, however no reference is given to these claims. Nevertheless, I don’t believe that traces of drugs detected two or three weeks later has much of an effect on productivity. If productivity is not an issue, then what use is this information other than gathering private information about out of work activities? Use of illegal drugs is abuse of the law, but is not necessarily drug abuse, nor is there a proven link between drug use and productivity. Drug abuse needs to be prevented, though excessive drug use would easily be detectable without the need for testing anyway, as productivity along with a bunch of other competencies would fall well below the required work standard (Open Polytechnic, 2013, M2, p7).

Regular alcohol consumption, smoking and unhealthy habits would also affect performance negatively, so do we allow testing on this information also? What level of productivity are we contractually obligated to give employers anyway? Completing the tasks on your job description is the most common practice, (Open Polytechnic, 2013, R2.1, p289) therefore productivity should be subject to scrutiny if you fall below what is reasonably expected, rather than some inconclusive link. Telling people not to get job’s that have drug testing policies, would be missing the point of privacy and the freedom of true consent. Some people don’t have the luxury to pick and choose their jobs, so for them the need for a job comes at the price of a liberty.

Civil liberties are depleting so rapidly now days. It is okay for government agencies to read emails, texts, track internet searches, search houses without notice and detain people on suspicion of terrorism. People may argue that, “if you have nothing to hide, then it shouldn’t matter”, but we should not be subject interrogation, nor be subject to intrusion into our personal affairs. Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with their privacy, family home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon their honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks’ (Open Polytechnic, 2013, M2, p4). It seems that drug testing is interference into privacy and therefore should only be used as a last resort, when it can be morally justified and is the most effective means of preventing harm. (Word count 891)

Nick
January 20, 2015 - 17:19

Whilst many positive arguments presented here promoting drug testing, namely the increase of productivity and decrease in injury, questions still remain as to where the line is drawn when privacy is concerned. What freedom are we entitled to when protecting information regarding personal activities? And to what level of productivity we are obligated to give an employer?

Although the intension of drug testing is argued for moral purposes, it feels as if the whole notion of privacy is slowly slipping away. I agree that drug testing has validity when it comes to keeping workers safe from harm. However, is it possible that less intrusive options are available when testing workers ability to complete tasks where safety is an issue?

Drug testing was originally intended to address safety issues created by intoxicated workers, which presents the strongest argument. Everyone has the right to a safe work environment and in certain circumstances, the responsibility of the employer to prevent harm, can supersede that of respecting privacy. (Open Polytechnic, 2013, R2.1, p286) An intoxicated person can certainly put people in harm’s way and this is were having knowledge of drug use becomes relevant and therefore justifies the use of drug testing.

Based on this, it appears fair that all workers can be drug tested. Looking closer however, setting perimeters would ensure testing is used for the ethical purpose of preventing harm. Not all job’s pose the kind of risk that warrants drug testing, jobs that do, only need test the drugs that propose risks specific to that job. There are less intrusive ways of testing workers to see if they are a risk hazard, such dexterity or psychological tests. Therefore drug testing should only be used if it is the most effective option when trying to prevent harm in the workplace and the information obtained about workers, should only be used with the intention of preventing harm and creating a safe work environment, not punishing people (Open Polytechnic, 2013, M2, p41).

Sleep deprivation, relationship problems and stress can all jeopardize safety. These and other personal situations can affect a workers concentration and depending on the job, can put themselves and others at risk. So to reduce this kind of risk, will we be obligated to give information regarding sleep habits, relationship problems and other private information? As it stands now, I am tentative telling employers that I play and study music, as it is frowned upon not having a professional focus. So even in my profession (accountant), my private time is subject to the scrutiny.

Assumptions can’t be made that drug testing is completely responsible for the reduction in workplace accidents. It is possible better health and safety processes and regulations have been implemented. Companies could be manipulating figures to lower insurance premiums or perhaps the author has presented percentages here from certain industries to enhance the point. Regardless, to be deemed morally sound, certain criteria should be meet justifying a drug test as opposed to screening out people that don’t fit the company’s ideologies.

The other argument, is that productivity suffers from drug use. These unsubstantiated statistics here, suggest that productivity has increased since the introduction of drug testing, however no reference is given to these claims. Nevertheless, I don’t believe that traces of drugs detected two or three weeks later has much of an effect on productivity. If productivity is not an issue, then what use is this information other than gathering private information about out of work activities? Use of illegal drugs is abuse of the law, but is not necessarily drug abuse, nor is there a proven link between drug use and productivity. Drug abuse needs to be prevented, though excessive drug use would easily be detectable without the need for testing anyway, as productivity along with a bunch of other competencies would fall well below the required work standard (Open Polytechnic, 2013, M2, p7).

Regular alcohol consumption, smoking and unhealthy habits would also affect performance negatively, so do we allow testing on this information also? What level of productivity are we contractually obligated to give employers anyway? Completing the tasks on your job description is the most common practice, (Open Polytechnic, 2013, R2.1, p289) therefore productivity should be subject to scrutiny if you fall below what is reasonably expected, rather than some inconclusive link. Telling people not to get job’s that have drug testing policies, would be missing the point of privacy and the freedom of true consent. Some people don’t have the luxury to pick and choose their jobs, so for them the need for a job comes at the price of a liberty.

Civil liberties are depleting so rapidly now days. It is okay for government agencies to read emails, texts, track internet searches, search houses without notice and detain people on suspicion of terrorism. People may argue that, “if you have nothing to hide, then it shouldn’t matter”, but we should not be subject interrogation, nor be subject to intrusion into our personal affairs. Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with their privacy, family home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon their honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks’ (Open Polytechnic, 2013, M2, p4). It seems that drug testing is interference into privacy and therefore should only be used as a last resort, when it can be morally justified and is the most effective means of preventing harm. (Word count 891)

Nick
January 19, 2015 - 21:02

Whilst many positive arguments presented here promoting drug testing, namely the increase of productivity and decrease in injury, questions still remain as to where the line is drawn when privacy is concerned. What freedom are we entitled to when protecting information regarding personal activities? And to what level of productivity we are obligated to give an employer?

Although the intension of drug testing is argued for moral purposes, it feels as if the whole notion of privacy is slowly slipping away. I agree that drug testing has validity when it comes to keeping workers safe from harm. However, is it possible that less intrusive options are available when testing workers ability to complete tasks where safety is an issue?

Drug testing was originally intended to address safety issues created by intoxicated workers, which presents the strongest argument. Everyone has the right to a safe work environment and in certain circumstances, the responsibility of the employer to prevent harm, can supersede that of respecting privacy. An intoxicated person can certainly put people in harm’s way and this is were having knowledge of drug use becomes relevant and therefore justifies the use of drug testing.

Based on this, it appears fair that all workers can be drug tested. Looking closer however, setting perimeters would ensure testing is used for the ethical purpose of preventing harm. Not all job’s pose the kind of risk that warrants drug testing, jobs that do, only need test the drugs that propose risks specific to that job. There are less intrusive ways of testing workers to see if they are a risk hazard, such dexterity or psychological tests. Therefore drug testing should only be used if it is the most effective option when trying to prevent harm in the workplace and the information obtained about workers, should only be used with the intention of preventing harm and creating a safe work environment, not punishing people.

Sleep deprivation, relationship problems and stress can all jeopardize safety. These and other personal situations can affect a workers concentration and depending on the job, can put themselves and others at risk. So to reduce this kind of risk, will we be obligated to give information regarding sleep habits, relationship problems and other private information? As it stands now, I am tentative telling employers that I play and study music, as it is frowned upon not having a professional focus. So even in my profession (accountant), my private time is subject to the scrutiny.

Assumptions can’t be made that drug testing is completely responsible for the reduction in workplace accidents. It is possible better health and safety processes and regulations have been implemented. Companies could be manipulating figures to lower insurance premiums or perhaps the author has presented percentages here from certain industries to enhance the point. Regardless, to be deemed morally sound, certain criteria should be meet justifying a drug test as opposed to screening out people that don’t fit the company’s ideologies.

The other argument, is that productivity suffers from drug use. These unsubstantiated statistics here, suggest that productivity has increased since the introduction of drug testing, however no reference is given to these claims. Nevertheless, I don’t believe that traces of drugs detected two or three weeks later has much of an effect on productivity. If productivity is not an issue, then what use is this information other than gathering private information about out of work activities? Use of illegal drugs is abuse of the law, but is not necessarily drug abuse, nor is there a proven link between drug use and productivity. Drug abuse needs to be prevented, though excessive drug use would easily be detectable without the need for testing anyway, as productivity along with a bunch of other competencies would fall well below the required work standard.

Regular alcohol consumption, smoking and unhealthy habits would also affect performance negatively, so do we allow testing on this information also? What level of productivity are we contractually obligated to give employers anyway? Completing the tasks on your job description is the most common practice, therefore productivity should be subject to scrutiny if you fall below what is reasonably expected, rather than some inconclusive link. Telling people not to get job’s that have drug testing policies, would be missing the point of privacy and the freedom of true consent. Some people don’t have the luxury to pick and choose their jobs, so for them the need for a job comes at the price of a liberty.

Civil liberties are depleting so rapidly now days. It is okay for government agencies to read emails, texts, track internet searches, search houses without notice and detain people on suspicion of terrorism. People may argue that, “if you have nothing to hide, then it shouldn’t matter”, but we should not be subject interrogation, nor be subject to intrusion into our personal affairs. Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with their privacy, family home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon their honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks’. It seems that drug testing is interference into privacy and therefore should only be used as a last resort, when it can be morally justified and is the most effective means of preventing harm.

shaun
March 11, 2013 - 22:45

I believe drug testing is a pointless exercise. So you can't be high when you apply, but afterwards you're free to boot heroin. And what's wrong with a recreational user? It's fine if you're a recreational drinker? And these tests only profile for marijuana, as most other drugs take 2-3 days to clear your system. I work in Biotech (i.e. I make cancer drugs) and never once was a drug test mentioned. And it's that way across most bioscience jobs. It's profiling and all it does is eliminate good candidate who occasionally smoke weed. And weed is pretty much legal in most places, it's used to help with a lot of maladies without the danger of addiction. My mother died of complications from alcohol abuse. Her doctors and sponsors put her on a whole galaxy of drugs to 'help' her, and it made her worse. The only time I've seen her normal before she died was when she visited me and smoked. But demonize it all you want, but be prepared to be the hypocrite if you hire a drinker.

dot drug testing consortium
February 04, 2013 - 06:29

I’ve got to say it’s rather a novelty to arrive at a relatively unique blog like this, great effort. I expect I’ll be coming back again soon.

Reply to dot drug testing consortium
Patrick Dixon
February 11, 2013 - 12:24

Great - glad you have found the interesting - are you just looking for information on drug testing - or browsing more widely?

Tweeter
January 14, 2012 - 21:28
Brilliant!

Just brilliant - with the amount of people around opposing the use of drug testing in the workplace it is great to see such a well structured supporting response!

Reply to Tweeter
Patrick Dixon
February 11, 2013 - 12:25

Well drug testing can be a matter of life and death in some occupations.

alexc818
November 02, 2011 - 03:48
Is it yours too

Very nice site!

Reply to alexc818
Patrick Dixon
February 11, 2013 - 12:25

Thanks.

slbts
January 15, 2011 - 18:04
Drug Free Workplace

Wow, great article, I have heard of drugrehabs where the counselors that work there still drink and drug legally, I guess it has something to do with descrimination, though with untreated addiction it is only a matter of time before it is gets in the way.

SCOTT
November 27, 2010 - 17:30

THIS ARTICLE IS FULL OF SHIT. I HOPE YOU PEOPLE OUT THERE ARE EDUCATED ENOUGH TO REALIZE THE NUMBERS AND PERCENTAGES IN THIS ARTICLE ARE NOT BACKED, CITED, AND ARE INCORRECT. LOOK THEM UP. THIS ARTICLE WAS CREATED FOR NOTHNG BESIDES PERSUADING AND MISLEADING PEOPLE.

Lasey
November 15, 2010 - 21:14

Wow this article is stupid. I am from America and I can tell you first hand that the number of positive tests is declining because PEOPLE ARE BEATING THE TESTS! I refuse to work for anyone that waves a piss cup at me and I have never done drugs in my life. It's principle. I also find it hard to believe that drug testing is a widespread in America as people claim considering I've only been asked (and refused) once and that was for Wal*Mart. A lot of companies have a drug testing policy in writing only because it lowers their insurance, but they never actually test anyone.

Jim
October 25, 2010 - 18:33
drugs

Of course the positive test rates have gone down since the random testing began. Since testing has begun, lots of companies have sprung up making products that beat these tests(urineluck, etc), and they work! If someone is getting doped up at work that is one thing, but if my doctor wants to light a fatty up on his time off, then let em be!

Reply to Jim
Anthony
September 12, 2012 - 14:01
Re: drugs

I agree It should only Be prohibited in the work place not on your own time what you do is you, Finally sonmewon see's that

Maria Clovechy
October 03, 2010 - 18:42

Who was this written by? When was it written? These are details some students need if they are going to use this article for an assignment they need.

Reply to Maria Clovechy
Timothy
January 26, 2011 - 09:31

I agree. I am currently working on a piece in my senior english class on drug testing in the workplace and this article is amazing no question about it. However, details you named are the details I need. =/

Rich
September 25, 2010 - 09:24
Also, you seem to have limited grasp of statistics.

If 10% of doctors use drugs, and you have a team of 5 working on you, that would be a 41% chance that one of them is on drugs. Not 50 - if you had 10 doctors working on you there wouldn't be a 100% chance that one of them was on drugs.
"Lol, medic-ed."

Demonhype
June 30, 2010 - 03:04
@ alan

You are absolutely correct. Upon re-reading this article, it becomes apparant that this person is either ignorant or a mouthpiece for the drug testing companies and/or the American fascists. I have only seen these numbers from "studies" conducted by testing companies or affiliated to testing companies. The only studies I have seen that are not so biased tend to disprove everything he says here. Call me nuts, but I tend to not believe studies conducted by/affiliated with/paid for by Marlboro that "prove" how harmless cigarettes are.

Either that, or he's the usual ignoramus who thinks that authoritarian violations of human rights is the best way to make people "safe"--and will believe any BS he is given to maintain that delusion. We've been down that road a lot, if you read history, and it has never worked.

And you are correct that he is speculating and that speculation is not a reason to dissolve the basic rights of individuals. The fact is that there are many other factors that result in workers fudging their jobs in potentially dangerous ways (alcoholism and fatigue, for instance) that have nothing to do with drugs and are never tested for.

Far better and far less of an intrusion or violation would be to have a worker, prior to engaging in a potentially dangerous job, go through some kind of motor-skills test designed to detect such disorientation (there is a particular word for this, but it eludes me at the moment). That would screen people out for fatigue and alcohol and nearly any other potenially dangerous coordination problem including drugs.

Unfortunately, that would take time, effort, and a willingness of the employers and the people to care about the rights so many have died to obtain for us. And it would undermine the actual purpose of drug testing (to get people used to the idea that they are merely possessions, livestock devoid of any kind of autonomy, including bodily autonomy.) And you know they wont' allow that anytime soon.

In fact, given the history of the pro-testing side to silence it's critics, I seriously doubt my comments will even make it to this page. But I will continue to fight.

Demonhype
June 30, 2010 - 02:43
BS yet again--don't people ever learn?

1. Drug testing is not a deterrent at all. That is a fairly obvious reality to anyone with eyes and ears.

2. Drug testing is alarmingly inaccurate (unless you talk to the testing companies who profit). It targets not the intoxication-producing drug molecules themselves but little questionably potential by-products that are commonly caused by various over-the-counter medications and often produced naturally by some people. The relevant molecule proved to be difficult to nail down during develoment of testing, so they decided to go for a technically less reliable (for diagnosis) but easier to find molecule because they wanted to get this crap out and turn their buck fast.

3. Drug testing does not boost public safety in any way, and far more prevalent causes of intoxication tend to be ignored. (unless you talk to the profiteering testing companies, again). Given the fact that marijuana metabolytes are the ones that tend to be traced the longest, while the harder drugs have an extremely narrow window of potential traceability (you can take them that morning and pass a test---you can also take a test a few days later and pass it), the focus tends to be not on the potentially dangerous drugs but on harmless marijuana (yes, I said harmless--booze is far more addictive and damaging, yet it's legal).

4. Drug testing lowers employee morale because it is a sign of employer contempt towards workers. (again, unless you talk to the profiteering testers). It's hard to have any respect for an employer who treats you as if you need to prove your innocence a priori (even someone accused of murder is innocent until proven guilty, and there has to be a fair amount of good reason to suspect him before you can go ahead with anything). And it's hard to give good work value to an employer who obviously holds you in such contempt.

5. Drug testing is absolutely an invasion of privacy regardless of whether it happens every day or every twenty years, and there is no amount of purported public safety that warrants the dissolving of civil liberties. Ever. Either find another way to protect people, or grow up and accept that no one can ever guarantee your saftey--and if they say they can, they are selling something. Would you allow someone to send a team into your personal home to search your belongings for things they don't like before being allowed employment? If not, then why would you allow someone to invade your body? If you can't see this, then I seriously doubt your intelligence, your integrity, and your own self-respect.

In short, drug testing is both state and corporate bullying. The actual reasons for drug testing is to use the motivation of the grubby crust of bread on our plate every day to get people to sign away their basic civil liberties to those in control--and once you sign away those rights, you may never see them again. At least, not without a nasty and potentially bloody fight.

But at least you'll have your grubby crust of bread and your illusion of safety--not to mention the self-important delusion that you are doing your duty to fight "teh bad guys". Though celebrating the Fourth of July might be a little hypocritical.

BTW, I am "clean", having only had the occasional single glass of wine from time to time, I take perception-altering materials very seriously and responsibly (including alcohol), and I would not date a heavy stoner for the same reason I would not date an alcoholic, but I will never submit to such a blatant violation of my human rights nonetheless.

Unfortunately, this discussion has become such a witch hunt/communist red scare situation that to simply oppose the rights violations involved in our Splendid Little Drug War is to be labeled an addict.

You'd think that would be a dead giveaway, that when you need to seal your views off from criticism by labeling anyone who questions your actions or motives as a "witch", "communist", "addict", "insert boogey-man-of-the-day here", then there may be some significant problems with your views.

Oh well. People are stupid, cowardly, easily-brainwashed children. What else is new?

vikas
May 27, 2010 - 23:51
Collection sites, Drug testing information, Drug testing center

Hi! this is awesome blog.Collection sites searches information of drug testing center.

alan
August 22, 2008 - 21:56

this is absolute garbage,,, scare mongering, and stinks of the "nanny state"
i had to laugh when i read "One plastics company realised many workers were taking amphetamines to keep awake after they lengthened shifts to twelve hours"

this workplace was the cause of the drug taking in the 1st place
it was bad management that caused the workers to be exhausted and feel they needed a substance to get them through their excessivly long day.

"We will never know how many have died under the knife of an intoxicated surgeon or as a result of a physician's drug-clouded mind. "
this is complete speculation.... it may have happened.... it may not, as you say you don't know...... tell people facts not guesses and maybes

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