Drug Testing In Workplace: Guide On The Things You Should Know

Pre-employment and workplace drug testing is becoming a common occurrence in today’s organizations and companies. Drug and alcohol use is considered the biggest contributing factor to decreased productivity and poor employee morale in organizations without mentioning the additional costs it contributes to the business operating costs in the form of healthcare claims. The intention by companies to reduce the risks and costs that come with drug use is the major reason why companies subject new employees to pre-employment drug testing. Legally, some industries such as transportation and defense are required by law to carry out regular employee screenings to ensure that the employees are not using the drugs. Nevertheless, other industries that are not mandated by law to subject employees to drug testing also carry out drug testing to keep their staff from using alcohol and drugs in the workplace.

Why is it beneficial for companies to carry out drug testing?

Generally, the use of drugs in the society has been increasing tremendously increasing the chances of companies hiring an employee who uses drugs. In fact, the use of marijuana and prescription drugs is increasingly becoming a major concern for governments and companies necessitating the need to take strict measure to curb the increasing employer liability claims and healthcare costs. By making sure that employees do not use drugs, companies are able to enjoy direct short-term cost savings to indirect, long-term increase in quality work.

Basically, the common reasons why employers implement pre-employment and workplace drug testing include to deter employees from abusing drugs and alcohol, to avoid hiring drug users, to provide a safe workplace for employees, to identify early and help employees overcome drug use problems, to protect the general public and instill confidence that the company offers safe working conditions, to comply with the regulations and to benefit from the cost benefits that come with drug testing such as insurance premium discount programs.

Situations when companies require drug testing

Hiring employees: Some companies have made it mandatory to carry out drug testing when hiring an employee. Pre-employment drug testing usually takes place once the conditional offer of employment is made. In this arrangement, the applicants agree to undergo a test to be hired for the job if they do not test positive.

Reasonable suspicion: In efforts to keep the workplace safe for employees and clients, some companies have put in place internal measures to deter drug and alcohol use in the workplace. One of the common measures is drug testing if there is reasonable suspicion of drug use. In this arrangement, drug and alcohol testing is done if supervisors have documented observable symptoms and signs that make them suspect the use of prohibited drugs. This type of drug testing is at the discretion of the management but the company is required to have clear consistent guidelines to prevent its abuse.

After an accident: Some companies make it mandatory for employees involved in an accident to undergo drug testing to determine whether the drugs were the contributing factor for the accident. The criteria used to determine whether drug testing is necessary after an accident vary among companies and can include fatalities, injuries, damage to car and property and citations issued by police among others. That said, employers are required to specify how soon after an accident the person should undergo drug testing. Some companies refer to post-accident as post-incident, which means that testing can be done even when the accident was averted.

Random or periodic testing: Random testing is done on an unpredictable basis through a scientifically arbitrary selection process. In random testing, every employee has an equal chance of being selected irrespective of whether they have been recently tested. Periodic testing is done uniformly and is scheduled in advance, which means that employees can prepare in advance for the test.

Return to duty testing: This type of testing is done on employees who have previously tested positive after successfully undergoing treatment. It is also done on employees who have been on an extended vacation or absent from the work for an extended period of time. Other types of drug testing also exist such as post rehabilitation testing, follow-up testing, probationary, voluntary, return-after-illness testing and pre-promotion testing.


If you are required to undergo drug testing, it is important to prepare well. A good preparation can help you pass testing and thus, avoid the disciplinary processes that you must undergo if you test positive. Some of the steps that you should take before a drug test include abstaining from drugs from the moment you learn of the testing. You should also learn about the different drug testing methods to learn the best ways to pass individual testing. If you do not have adequate time to naturally get rid of drugs from your system, you can purchase kits that are designed to help employees pass drug tests.