Company drug policies are increasingly obsolete and difficult to balance with ever-changing regulations.
Plus, employee rights, safety, and fairness need to be addressed. Impairment testing can remove many of the contentious issues from your safety program and support a culture of safety and respect instead.
“Workers are not fungible commodities. You have an investment not only monetarily, but emotionally and personally with your workers,” says attorney Adele Abrams, a recognized expert in employment law. “If you're a good employer, you want to see them succeed, you want to see them be safe, and you want to make sure that if there's something that is impeding their ability to work safely they can get assistance for it. Impairment measurement gets you there.”
Due to expanding cannabis legalization and the current labor shortage a growing number of companies are eliminating workplace drug testing. But companies still have a requirement to keep their workplace safe or face expensive legal suits.
Here how impairment can support your overall safety program and benefit your employees:
1. More Immediate - Real time testing keeps people safe. Impairment testing can be used in the field with immediate results, faster than conventional testing, plus determines if impairment due to any cause including fatigue, illness or injury.
2. Noninvasive – With impairment testing there is no sampling of anything body fluids or hair follicles. There is no need to go to a special area or facility and does not require medical professionals to deal with it.
3. Flexible - The test is quick and easily incorporated into a daily routine. It can become a regular part of a workday or random, making it just another safety item on the checklist.
4. Respectful and Fair - The cause of the impairment is irrelevant. It could be from fatigue, illness, alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications, or others. The scores are compared to an individual’s own baseline, providing a personal, objective assessment of capabilities.
5. Private – Since impairment testing doesn’t detect substances, an employee would be free to use legal substances in their private time off the job. Likewise, if an employee were on a prescription medication their privacy would be protected.
Impairment testing does not need to be a substitute for drug testing, in fact it can be used as probable cause to test for drugs if necessary. Impairment testing can alleviate many of the concerns around drug testing for employees and address the primary concern for employers- keeping the workplace safe while supporting employees.
“You're doing a service to your workers by identifying things that may be health issues for them”, adds Abrams. “It could be fatigue, stress, or physical illness. We have a lot of people with long Covid that now and part of this may be diminished mental, depression, or sleep disorders.”