Workplace Drug Testing

In 1987, a Conrail engineer, who had been smoking marijuana, caused train collision in which 16 passengers were killed and 176 people were injured. Also, in 1989 the Exxon Valdez accident, Captain Joseph Hazelwood announced the worst oil spill in US history. There was huge loss of animal life and destruction to economic and social fabric in Alaska. Alcohol was partly responsible for this tragedy. Such accidents caused the Department of Transportation to test employees in safety sensitive transportation jobs for drug and alcohol use.

It was a good idea because workers who abuse drugs are more likely to injure themselves and put other people at risk. Thus, the workplace drug testing has developed because of the growing use and abuse of drug and alcohol in modern society. Workplace drug testing has a lot of advantages. Even though some people argue that the process is both unfair and unnecessary, some classes of prospective should be tested. Workplace drug testing has become more prevalent in American businesses. As a result, cases of workplace substance abuse have dropped significantly.

There are few justifications for employer drug testing. First, federal and state laws require drug tests for certain workers and companies. If the employers do not comply with certain laws and contract requirements, they lose the contracts. For example, the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires private employers to have comprehensive policies designed to prevent drug abuse when the federal contracts over $25,000. Thus, the main justification is complying with the law. Second, drug testing has beneficial results. Insurance costs will be reduced and productivity will increase.

Third, some business owners claim that the introduction of drug testing in the work environment has actually improved the morale of the larger workforce because the majority of employees are more interested in making sure that their workplace is a safe and productive one. Fourth, even though urine tests are intrusive, corporate drug testers argue that urinalysis is a practical method of testing for drug use.

When comparing with other methods such as drug-sniffing dogs, polygraphs, undercover investigations, entry and exit searches, closed-circuit TV monitors in restrooms, and searches through handbags and desks, urine tests are less intrusive. Next, it is social responsibility for drug testing. Employees, even all people, have no right to use marijuana, cocaine, heroin and designer drugs.

Their use is illegal and creates crime, illness, and broken families and lives. Thus, business helps society to reduce drug use. At last, competitors have drug testing programs. If a company does not have the program, its applicant pool would have filled with drug users because they are not able to get jobs in its competitors. There are different justifications for employer drug testing. However, the drug testing affects the civil rights of workers. Many people think that drug testing is both unfair and violates their privacy.

The urine testing does not accurately reflect the result. It is unfair to force employees who are not even suspected of using drugs to prove their innocence, and the procedure violates personal privacy. Such tests are unnecessary because they cannot detect impairment. Even a confirmed positive provides no evidence that the people are present intoxication or impairment because it just indicates that the people might have taken a drug at some time in the past.

Of course, the innocent people do not have anything to hide, but they should have their private life. Analysis of a person’s urine can disclose many details about that person’s private life other than drug use. It can tell the employers that the employees or applicants are being treated for medical condition such as pregnancy, clinical depression, diabetes, heart condition, and epilepsy.

Therefore, civil libertarians believe urine testing has bad effects on civil rights of workers. However, some kinds of employees should be tested because it protects our society. Even though the workplace drug testing might violate civil rights of workers, some classes of prospective should be tested. First, the employees who are in safety-sensitive positions should be tested. This might refer to national security.

Also, the people who could harm the safety of themselves, other employees, or the public should be tested. For example, as mentioned previously, if the Conrail engineer and Hazelwood had taken the drug testing, it might prevent the disasters. Second, the employees who provide cause should be tested. When employees are often absent on Mondays or take periodic unexpected absences, have frequent accidents, display erratic behavior, or show inconsistent job performance, they should take the drug testing.

Third, the employees who have gone through rehabilitation should be tested. For example, when employees have gone through a drug rehabilitation program, they should be tested because they might abuse the drug again. Next, the employers should randomly test of all employees.

The drug-using employees are hard to escape random detection because they cannot prepare for the random testing even though they can arrange to be free of drugs of irregular tests. Finally, the employees who apply for employment might be tested. Especially the one who applies for sensitive positions should be subject to drug testing. Workplace drug testing has a lot of advantages. However, because of their privacy and civil rights, the employees might still resist workplace drug testing. If the company wants to implement a drug testing program, the company should educate their employees, and the company has to indicate clearly about the problems associated with drug abuse, the reasons for testing, and the nature of the testing programs.