Drug testing in the workplace

Recent research revealed that a growing number of employees are reporting for work when under the influence of drugs, such as amphetamines, heroin, and cocaine. An employee with any of these drugs in his or her system is not only unproductive, but is also a potential danger to other workers. Considering these aspects, it is no wonder that an increasing number of employers are looking for ways to deal with drug using employees to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences. Before starting a workplace drug-testing programme employers should seek professional advice about creating a formal protocol. A company should then present the consequences of drug use to the staff, conduct drug testing with special drug test kits, and monitor their workers. The following paragraphs explain how employers can do all of these things effectively.

Seeking professional advice

Several UK drug testing companies are ready to provide professional advice on how to perform routine drug testing.  They will inform an enquirer about how much it costs, how to get the best drug testing kits, and how to store and use these kits. Having a 99 per cent accuracy rate, these kits allow employers to test their employees for drug use in a very convenient and cost-effective way (providing a simple positive or negative result, these tests do not require specialised analysis and interpretation).

Creating a workplace protocol

Given the current pattern of illicit drug use, problems relating to drug abuse in the workplace are very likely to arise in many companies. However, an effectively implemented workplace drug policy can help employers to deal with and avoid such problems by making sure that their workers comply with the rules preventing the misuse of drugs in the workplace. The policy will also specify the action to be taken should a problem arise with an employee.

Presenting the consequences of drug use

The main issues arising through drug use in the workplace relate to time taken off work on sick leave, reduction in performance levels, low team morale, and possible occurrence of workplace accidents. If an employee under the influence of drugs causes a workplace accident the cost of litigation can be huge, especially if the supervisor, manager, or employer has knowingly allowed drug-related activities in the workplace. Explaining the consequences of drug use at work to their employees can help employers not only to minimise the risks to the health and safety of their workers, but also to avoid costly mistakes.

Conducting drug testing

The companies conducting on-site drug testing use instant drug test kits; such as dip-and-read urine test kits, multi-panel collection cups, key urine cups, and cassette-and-pipette urine drug test kits. Requiring employees to drop a small sample of urine onto the test panel and displaying results within several minutes, these kits are very easy to use. Additionally, they can detect different drugs at the same time, including; cannabis, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, ecstasy, barbiturates, methadone, opiates, and others. According to the 1998 Human Rights Act, employers need to explain the purpose of the drug test and obtain an employee’s informed consent before performing the test.

Monitoring employees

Under The Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, employers have a right to monitor their staff. Monitoring can range from installing CCTV systems to verifying the websites that employees access whilst at work, and also randomly checking their bags when they leave. Regardless of the type of surveillance or anti drugs procedures an employer decides to adopt, it should all be clearly set out in the employee handbook or in an individual’s contract of employment.