The History of Workplace Drug Testing
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The History of Workplace Drug Testing

 

The concept of a Drug Free Workplace began in 1914.  It was at this time that the Ford Motor Company established sobriety programs in the company's plants.  The next step from here was when Ronald Reagan signed the Executive Order 12564.  This banned the use of drugs both on and off duty for federal government employees.  This order resulted in the Drug-free Workplace Act of 1988.


It was in 1986 that the government recognized that drug use was having a serious adverse effect on the workforce and the billions of dollar that was lost in productivity each year.  It was estimated that even at this time that there were billions of dollars being lost each year on due to a loss of productivity.  It was at this time that the federal government, as an employer, decided to make a step towards becoming a drug-free workplace.  This executive order led to the Drug-Free Workplace Act, which defined a "drug-free workplace" as a site where work is done and an entity in which employees are prohibited from engaging in the manufacture, distribution or possession. 


A drug-free workplace has now become the norm for most large and medium sized employers.  Many small employers are also working to institute a drug-free workplace program.  There are various reasons why a company would choose to implement a drug testing program in their company.  These include safeguarding the health and safety of their employees as well as maintaining the productivity of employees.  Many industries also mandate drug-free programs, such as any driver operating under the Department of Transportation.


The main goal of a drug-free workplace should be to identify those employees who require treatment and then help them overcome their substance abuse issues.  This is done so that they may return to work and maintain a certain level of productivity in their job. 


However, because sending employees into rehabilitation can be expensive for companies, many employers choose to enact a pre-employment drug testing policy.  This policy is put in place to screen applicants so that the company does not hire a person who already has an existing substance abuse problem.


Establishing a workplace drug policy has been shown to drastically reduce the cost to business and industry from decreased productivity.  There are several factors related to drug use that often cause issues in the workplace ranging from absenteeism to mistakes at work and sometimes injuries on the job.  There is no absolute drug policy that can be put into place, but using a program that is tailored to your needs and is effectively communicated to the staff is the most effective.

 

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