Illicit drug use in the United States is on the rise. So, why is drug use such a serious concern for employers?

For one, drug use jeopardizes employee safety while creating a more dangerous environment for employees and customers alike. As a consequence of employees potentially coming into work under the influence of an illicit substance, productivity may also suffer.

Meanwhile employees who are not performing at their best create a poor public image for your entire corporate identity.

Drug Testing Increases Workplace Safety 

Certain jobs are inherently dangerous and require extra vigilance from employers. Truck drivers, construction workers and other employees operating heavy machinery on a daily basis need to put every ounce of their concentration into their work.

When they don’t – or can’t because of on-the-job drug use – workplace safety is imperiled, workplace safety significantly decreases and you might even risk a lawsuit. Just imagine the hassle that could be avoided by regular drug testing.

Employees know that they’re supposed to show up to work sober, but sometimes an early morning shift after a night of partying causes employees to downplay the dangers. Imagine a fork-life operator or deli worker, as examples, using fork lifts and sharp utensils while not completely functional. The prospect itself is a little frightening.

Although drug testing clearly increases workplace safety, there are some laws that dictate whom you are allowed to drug test…and when.

Is Drug Testing Legal? 

In most instances, yes. Each state has a different set of rules, and in general states are more lenient towards allowing private employers the right to drug test applicants on a widespread basis.

Employers must follow state protocol on delegating drug testing out to a drug testing laboratory in order to get accurate samples and preclude the possibility of discrimination. Generally speaking, the job applicant must be cognizant of the fact that drug testing is a prerequisite to gaining employment.

In most states, a private employer may also require a drug test after giving an applicant the job. In other words, the job will go to that employee contingent on a passing of a drug test conducted at a drug testing laboratory.

To prevent discrimination, the employer must also treat all applicants in the same fashion and follow state standards for conducting the drug test, or delegating out the drug testing to a certified drug testing laboratory. Drug testing laboratories are typically certified at the state level.

  • Screening Current Employee Workforce

Here the rules are somewhat more case-sensitive. An employer usually isn’t allowed to give blanket drug tests to every employee at one time, and the employer also isn’t typically allowed to administer random drug tests. Again, though, each state has a different protocol.

So, when is an employer allowed to test a current employee? That’s a great question. An employer may test a current employee when that employer suspects that one of his or her employees is under the influence of an illicit substance. Warning signs such as repeated lateness, direct signs of drug use or sleeping on the job might be grounds for a drug test on an individual employee.

Another instance in which it’s OK for an employer to administer a drug test to a current employee is when there’s been a workplace accident, and compensation or liability might be at stake.

Lastly, jobs that are inherently dangerous and involve the regular use of heavy machinery (fork-life operator) may give employers permission to drug test current employees to ensure workplace safety. Guaranteeing that you have a competent, alert and safe workforce is one of the key incentives for drug testing.


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