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3 Reasons Why Impairment Testing Should Replace Drug Testing in the Workplace

Impairment testing can provide the missing pieces in your work safety program including marijuana impairment detection, protection of employee privacy, and real time on the job results

The shortcomings of drug testing have been a recurring news story in recent months. Following Amazon’s announcement last summer to abandon marijuana testing, many companies are following suit. A recent survey reports that 1 in 10 companies are dropping drug testing of employees (see footnote).

Workplace dangers have not gone away

Yet workplace safety remains a critical issue for many industries. Some, like construction and manufacturing, are heavily regulated and require extensive protocols to provide a safe work environment. Other industries, such as healthcare or emergency services, put people in dangerous environments as part of their job and need to focus on other methods to keep people safe. Impairment testing is different from drug testing. Impairment testing focuses on impairment, not on the cause of impairment. It ensures that people are ready and able to work safely, and capable of making critical decisions.

Impairment testing can provide the missing pieces in your work safety program including marijuana impairment detection, protection of employee privacy, and real time on the job results:

1. Only impairment testing can detect impairment from marijuana use

Legalization of marijuana has created a problem since tests for marijuana are not instant and do not determine impairment. The labor shortage has caused many companies to drop drug testing for marijuana in order to hire and retain employees. This has left a vacuum for safety, but since what you want to know is if someone is impaired, not if they have THC in their system, impairment testing allows employers to keep the workplace safe. It also allows employees to use marijuana if legal in their state.

2. Impairment testing protects employee privacy

Human error is a primary cause of workplace accidents and safety incidents. The causes behind human error can vary but the bottom line is that to protect everyone in dangerous jobs you must look at how the humans are functioning as well as the environment. Impairment testing is not based on substances, so the test simply determines fitness for duty without regard to cause. If an employee is ill or taking medications, an impairment test will simply say that they may not be fit to work on particular tasks, but since no cause is revealed, privacy is protected.

3. Impairment testing detects in real time regardless of the cause

Keeping the workplace safe means monitoring the workplace conditions and people. Drug tests are mostly a deterrent, but results can take days and you need probable cause to administer them. Causes for impairment other than drugs, such as fatigue, injury, or illness, are not detected by drug tests. Impairment testing can be administered in real time, on the job providing information that can be used to reassign tasks or take other measures if necessary- before an accident occurs.

Drug Policies, including testing, fatigue prediction software, and following regulations are all part of overall safety programs. But these measures all miss some components that can improve safety. Impairment testing is objective and can be done quickly and easily. The use of impairment testing as part of an overall safety program helps create a culture of safety.

  1. Survey: Nearly One-in-Ten Employers Dropping Drug Testing Requirements to Attract Workers, NORML, November 18, 2021.



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