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The Importance of Drug & Alcohol Testing

By Andrew David Easler, Esq.

The average workplace seems safe enough at first glance. Whether you’re speaking of a store in a shopping mall or an office, it’s a pretty benign environment. However, hidden threats lurk that can affect both physical safety and the company itself. Drug and alcohol use by employees can create significant threats to customers and other employees. Drug and alcohol testing are essential components of maintaining a safe environment within an organization.

Current Drug Use Statistics

Drug and alcohol testing has been used for a long time to help determine if alcohol or drug use is present. Random drug testing is probably the most familiar method, but there are other instances when testing is necessary, including after accidents involving employees that lead to injuries in need of immediate medical attention, fatalities, injuries to customers, and more. According to the US government, 4.1% of the entire US workforce tested positive for drug use in 2012, down by .1% from 2008. In contrast, 1.6% of safety-sensitive workers tested positive for drug use, which is down from 1.7% in 2011, but on par with the statistics from 2008. What does this tell you? Simply put, it means that drug and alcohol testing is not only still needed, but play an essential role in helping to identify employees working under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Types of Testing

The predominant type of drug and alcohol testing is the urine test. The employee being tested provides a urine sample in a specified collector, usually done in the presence of the collection professional. That sample is then taken to a laboratory where it is tested for the presence of specific drugs. If the presence of illicit drugs is found, the company can then take whatever action it deems appropriate, which generally includes suspending the employee for a specified period of time. Severe situations may warrant immediate termination, though, Blood testing is also conducted, albeit less frequently. Breath testing has become the most common way to detect the presence of alcohol since it leaves the body within a relatively short period, and so can only be caught in urine and blood tests in a small percentage of situations

The need for drug and alcohol testing across all industries has opened up several rewarding career opportunities for specimen collection professionals, breath test technicians, and others. Earning your credentials is the first step towards a brighter future.

The information on this page may have changed since we first published it. We give great legal advice, but this page (and the rest of our site) is for informational use only and is no substitute for actual legal advice. If you’d like to establish an attorney-client relationship, reach out to us and we’ll tell you how we can make it official. Sending us an email or reading this page alone doesn’t mean we represent you.

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