Drug Alcohol Testing in the workplace has stirred up plenty of controversy with supporters highlighting the financial and safety costs of employees abusing substances at work while critics argue it is a violation of human rights and often targets drugs that do not influence performance.
James Lee (not his real name) was a sports reporter in a bustling Asian city who was often late to work. He would turn up just as a game was finishing and his write-up in the next day’s newspaper was nothing like what actually happened on the field. Drug and alcohol testing would prevent this misinformation. During the week of a high-profile tennis tournament featuring some of the biggest names in the sport, Lee was hardly courtside. Yet, his reports would feature in the next day’s paper and the quotes he used would be fabricated.
Alcohol Drug Testing might have saved the career of Lee, a talented young journalist and a likeable person. There were reports from colleagues that Lee would call them up at unsociable hours asking for money. He was once seen on a street corner flashing signs at passers-by, no doubt seeking funds to feed his addiction.
Lee eventually spent time in prison before being deported to his native country. In high-pressure work environments, Lee’s case is hardly unique, whatever the industry.
The saving grace for Lee was that his drug-related job performance did not directly affect the safety of his colleagues and his fictional storytelling never spawned any lawsuits against the company. Workplace drug testing requires people to be held accountable for their actions.
However, this is not always the case. Substance abuse by workers in industrial settings in which heavy machinery is used is a major safety risk. Drug testing in such an environment is crucial. The financial cost of under-performance and absenteeism because of drug use is also a reason why companies resort to drug testing. Drug and alcohol testing is helpful to prevent these things from happening on your jobsite.
A 2009 study by Australia’s National Cannabis Prevention and Information Center found that more than 70 percent of workplaces in South Australia expressed concern that drug abuse could jeopardize safety. Productivity (11 percent) and absenteeism (7.3 percent) were also significant concerns.
The center found that lower productivity as a result of substance or alcohol abuse cost businesses almost US$3 billion a year while employees using drugs were four times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident. A National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which cast a wider net of respondents representing about 30,000 Australians, showed that those in employment were more likely to have used illegal drugs in the previous 12 months than the unemployed.
Employees in the hospitality industry, such as hotels and resorts, were also more likely to have used drugs (31.2 per cent) than educators (9.2 per cent).
Random or unannounced Drug & Alcohol Testing goes a long way toward tackling the problem, which is a global issue and affects most countries where experimenting with social drugs, despite being illegal, is an acceptable, and often esteemed, way of life.
This article has been taken from http://mediscreen.net.au/articles/?p=1984