Drug and Alcohol Employment: The Need To Know
27 October, 2023
In recent years, illicit drug and alcohol abuse has become a widespread issue, affecting people of all backgrounds and professions. The use of illegal drugs and alcohol consumption can significantly impact the health and well-being of people. With the prevalence of substance abuse, drug and alcohol employment testing is vital to eliminate health and safety risks and promote safety. As such, it is essential for both employees and employers to understand the implications and take necessary precautions.
Employers play a crucial role in maintaining a safe and drug-free work environment. Understanding the legal and ethical aspects of drug and alcohol consumption in the workplace is essential. Accordingly, this develops to increase a focus on drug and alcohol testing policies and workplace regulations to ensure the productivity and safety of workers. This article will present the types of tests, the safety risks of substance abuse, and how to handle positive results.
Drug and Alcohol Employment: Types of Tests
Employers can use a wide range of methods for drug and alcohol during employment testing. One method is the saliva testing. It involves the collection of oral fluid from the candidate. This can detect ethanol or drug presence within 12 to 24 hours after consumption. As such, it is non-invasive, which is a convenient option for employers. Another method is the urine tests. It can detect metabolites for up to 48 hours.
Moreover, blood testing requires the drawing of blood from the arm of a person. It is a more invasive approach and is common to get precise results. The method can detect different types of drugs and ethanol. Also, hair testing can give an accurate result of substance use for up to 90 days. This is possible due to the metabolites stored in the hair follicle.
One common device for monitoring alcohol misuse is the breathalyser testing. This detects alcohol breath in a person. It is portable and compact, making it a beneficial tool for monitoring the consumption of alcohol in the workplace. Nevertheless, each tool provides employers with a way to eliminate any alcohol and drug-related issues.
What Substances Can Be Detected
The following substances can be detected in the alcohol and drug testing:
- Ethanol – this is present in liquors, wine, or beer beverages. It usually makes a person dizzy and can impair cognitive functions.
- Cannabis – also called marijuana or weed. The detection window for this can be influenced by the amount of use and frequency.
- Cocaine – it is a powerful stimulant drug. The detection window is short, depending on the test method.
- Opioids – this includes prescription drugs like oxycodone and illicit drugs like heroin.
- Amphetamines – these are methamphetamine and ecstasy, which are stimulant substances.
- Synthetic drugs – such as synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic stimulants.
Drug and Alcohol Employment: Safety Risks of Substance Use in the Workplace
Understanding the safety risks of the consumption of a drug and alcohol during employment is crucial for both employers and employees. When workers are under the influence of illicit substances, their judgement and decision-making abilities can be impaired. This can lead to poor control, a decrease in coordination, and an increase in safety issues.
Substance use can cause drowsiness and decrease alertness. This creates an adverse impact for employees to overlook hazards or react slowly in critical situations. As such, the test is particularly vital for a worker handling heavy machinery or sensitive jobs. Also, substance abuse can potentially lead to accidents and injuries and may also put co-workers and the overall safety of the workplace at risk.
Substance-related problems can also significantly impact productivity in the workplace. Employees who abuse illicit drugs or alcohol are more likely to have absenteeism issues, tiredness, and low performance in job duties. Accordingly, workers with such issues have difficulty interacting with colleagues, leading to communication problems.
Reasons to Test
One common reason for the assessment is the pre-employment testing. This is a standard requirement for safety-sensitive roles. The approach helps employers to determine if the candidate has substance abuse issues. Another reason is the random testing. Employers select the employees randomly to test without any prior notice.
The test can also be from a reasonable policy testing. This is when an employer has a probable belief that an employee is under the influence of illicit substances. In addition, employers test after a workplace accident. This testing helps determine if drugs or alcohol are contributing factors to the incident.
Drug and Alcohol Employment: Handling Positive Results
Handling a positive result after a drug and alcohol during employment testing requires a careful and supportive approach to address the issue effectively. Employers should handle positive tests with confidentiality and respect for privacy. Only authorised personnel should have access to the information. This is to avoid any judgements that can affect the employee.
The employer should notify the employee privately about the result of the test. It is important to provide the worker with an opportunity to explain the outcome or provide any valid prescription. Moreover, it is vital for an organisation to have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to assist employees with alcohol and drug-related problems. Also, it is crucial to validate the result of the test before doing anything.
Additionally, a positive result presents an opportunity to educate employees about the dangers of substance use. This education can also include the available resources for addiction support and counselling. The employers can also run through the policy regarding the consequences of positive results. This can be disciplinary measures, termination, or suspension.
Factors that May Influence the Results
There are several factors that can greatly influence the results of a drug and alcohol test. The accuracy of these tests is crucial when determining if an individual is under the influence of substances. Factors such as the type of substance, the amount and frequency of usage, and how quickly the test is conducted after consumption can all impact the results.
Additionally, the methods used for testing, whether through urine, blood, saliva, breath or hair samples, can also play a role in the accuracy of the results. It is important to consider these factors to obtain reliable and valid results.
The testing of drug and alcohol during employment is an essential aspect in mitigating any negative impact of substance abuse. Such proactive measures promote safety and minimise risks of accidents, injuries, or harm to other workers. Employers can utilise different testing procedures like saliva, urine, blood, hair, and breathalysers for alcohol consumption. Substance abuse creates a wide range of problems that affect the overall productivity of the workplace.
The test can detect various substances, identifying if an employee is impaired. The common substances monitored are ethanol, cocaine, or misuse of prescription drugs. The test is done randomly, for the hiring process, reasonable, or as proof for post-accident. Also, the test can be influenced by several factors. Thus, it is vital to understand it for a more accurate result. Nevertheless, employers should know how to handle a positive result to support the rehabilitation of the employee.