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Should Drug testing for employment be mandated?

No matter whom you work for you may have experienced theft or an accident in your workplace but never gave it a second thought, often there is a reason behind it. Theft and accidents are usually caused by an employee who needs money to feed their habit or are high and become careless and cause accidents.

Even if there was no danger to fellow employees, unreliable employees cost the company money in lost production, absenteeism, and theft of company items. Is your company currently drug testing for employment? Here are the numbers as to why you should.

Lost time

drug testing for employment

The typical worker misses about two work weeks (10.5 days) annually for illness, injury or reasons other than vacation and holidays. Workers with substance use disorders, however, miss nearly 50% more days than their peers, averaging nearly three weeks at (14.8 days) a year. Workers with pain medication use disorders miss nearly three times as much – nearly six weeks (29 days). Most of these extra days of missed work are associated with illness and injury, adding up to more than 22 days annually.

The National Safety Council

Top ten reasons for drug testing for employment

  • 20% of your workers are likely abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • Drug users are 25% less productive,
    • three times more likely to take sick benefits,
    • four times more likely to steal from their employers and co-workers,
    • account for 3.6 times more work-related accidents,
    • five times more likely to file a worker’s comp claim.
  • Between 38 to 50% of all worker’s comp claims involve the use of drugs or alcohol.
  • 75% of all substance abusers are in full or part-time employment
  • Employee’s with alcohol problems incur twice the healthcare costs of other employees
  • Companies that implement a ‘drug-free workplace policy’ saw major reductions in costs for:
    • Employee turnover,
    • Short and long-term disability and workers compensation,
    • Accidents and corporate liability.

The Total Cost

Here is an example using the latest data of what it costs to the bottom line of your company.

We used the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) to calculate what it cost a construction company with 100 employees in lost time, job turnover, retraining, and health care.

drug testing for employment
Job Turnover & Re-training cost: $13,155

drug testing for employment
Lost Time cost: $16,320
drug testing for employment
Healthcare cost $11,718

Cost Detail 

Below is the breakout of factors that contribute to employer costs in lost time, job turnover, and healthcare. Substance use is associated with other problems that can impact employees’ productivity and safety, though these problems are more difficult to monetize. Click on “Other Social Costs” for more details.

Average Days off Work:65
Employee errors involving incident or safety risk:1
Total Turnover:2
Days in hospital:3
Emergency room visits:5
Outpatient visits:6

Drug testing for employment

drug testing for employment

A cost-saving comparison when using a 5-panel urine drug test with a specimen cup @ $1.75 each compared to a 5 panel Lab test.

Example savings chart.
100 tests per year$175.00
20 random tests per year$35.00
5 reasonable suspicion tests per year$8.75
TOTAL COST of ‘In-House’ Testing$218.75
TOTAL COST IF YOU USE A LAB INSTEAD @ $39.95 / test = $4993.75
Total savings $4775.00

A cost-saving comparison when using a 10-panel urine drug test cup @ $4.72 each compared to a 10 panel Lab test.

Example savings chart.
100 tests per year$472.00
20 random tests per year$94.40
5 reasonable suspicion tests per year$23.60
TOTAL COST of ‘In-House’ Testing $590.00
TOTAL COST IF YOU USE A LAB INSTEAD @ $49.95 / test = 6243.75
Total savings $5653.75

Where to start

For companies who take drug testing for employment seriously, you need to implement a simple document outlining your tolerance to drug and alcohol abuse and use it in the place of work; This is called a ‘drug-free workplace policy.’

Once upon a time, it was okay to go for a drink at lunchtime. For obvious reasons, this is generally unacceptable and frowned upon by the employer. The same should apply to drug use and abuse.

Make all employees aware of the new document and ask them to sign a copy for your records. Drug testing for employment should be mandated for everyone. It is recommended that every employee is tested once a year, and twenty employees at random are selected for screening each year. Finally, there may be situations where there is reasonable suspicion, and action needs to be taken. We calculate this maybe five times a year. Your total cost is in the region of $600 per year or $41,000 if you don’t. Which do you think is the better option?

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