There are many kinds of jobs in our economy today that require drug testing, whether during pre–employment to determine the suitability of candidates or post-employment for very safety sensitive positions.
Such tests can help discover usage of alcohol, illicit drugs or even prescription drugs. The only difference to this is that it is not used to measure a person’s impairment or whether their past behavior was affected by illegal substances.
So do we agree that every employer should force you to pee in a cup?
Why Do Companies Test People for Drugs?
Drug testing is particularly important because it can prevent employers from hiring people who use illegal substances. It is also beneficial to the effect that it may deter staff from using alcohol and narcotics during working hours.
Employers who can identify staff who are becoming substance addicts can refer them to corrective measures. These kind of investigations also ensures that the working place is safe for everyone and instills confidence in the consumers that employees are working in a good environment.
Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing (SAMHSA’s guidelines) protect employers conducting these assessments.
The Problems That Come With Conducting Them
However, many employers are also shunning away from conducting drug tests during pre-screening for employment. This is because these measures may be very expensive while the number of people who tend to be positive are very low.
At times, some of the well-managed programs also tend to produce false results, and you do have the issues of people using fake urine to cover their results. However, failing doesn’t also mean that someone has ever been intoxicated during working hours.
Many companies have stopped mandatorily conducting these assessments because there also have not been a significant increase in productivity or reduction in the number of work-related accidents, which is what matters at the end of the day. People lead private lives outside of work, and it is the more progressive companies that understand that, and respect their employees privacy.
I think most people can agree that forcing these assessments on their employees is an invasion of privacy, and if they want to know what their staff do at home, employers should establish a good relationship with their staff members, so that if they do discover that one of their employees are using substances, then they can approach them with empathy without making them feel like criminals.
Which Industries Have To Perform Them?
There are quite a few industries that can't avoid conducting assessments on alcohol and substance use. Public servants such as healthcare professionals and law enforcement officers are expected to take them. Now I'm a pretty progressive person, but I do understand why it is necessary to assess public servants for alcohol and narcotics.
Nobody wants to see a drunk officer that has easy access to a firearm, nor do you want to see them busting narcotics dealers when they are high themselves. Here is a list of professions that do require you to be assessed and you can completely understand why.
In healthcare, federal law requires that employers have to conduct alcohol and drug tests. Just imagine if a doctor and the nurses went into the surgery room while drunk, it would be a scary place for everybody.
Employers are therefore encouraged to conduct them to also give patients much confidence in the health care system, so that they can ensure patient safety and have the peace of mind that they are in good hands.
2. Public Transport
In the transportation industry, jobs like being a pilot or truck drivers are consistently required to be assessed for alcohol and narcotics. This is because they are highly sensitive and require high precision and alertness. In these careers, an error done while under the influence of any substance, is highly likely to cause fatal accidents.
3. Military and Defense
In defense, soldiers and military service people are also required to be investigated for alcohol or any illegal substance.
Their work is very sensitive as it includes handling of dangerous weapons and national security.
These mandatory investigations are therefore done to avoid fatal accidents or unnecessary shootings.
As well, since defence is a highly disciplined industry, the men and women have to strictly follow orders from their seniors which requires complete focus.
4. Law Enforcement Officers
In Law enforcement, it is mandatory for officers to be analyzed for substances. Since it is a job that requires protection of civilians and enforcing law and order, standard evaluations are done so that harm is not done to any civilians when handling them.
This also ensures that the law enforcement itself remains orderly and no corruption is taking place.
5. Firemen and Emergency
Firemen and Emergency workers are also checked for alcohol and substance usage to determine their level of alertness. These are very superior jobs that need employees always to be on the alert.
Any impairment as a result of consuming a certain stimulant may cause unimaginable number of destruction to both people and property due to neglect.
In most cases I am the type of person that is against mandatory substance investigations. You also have to bear in mind that certain drugs can stay in a persons system longer than others. For example marijuana can stay in a persons system for 6 weeks after smoking a joint. Now what are the grounds for firing this employee if he smoked 1 joint 6 weeks ago? These investigations can be dangerous and don't always give you all the facts, which is why we are seeing more and more companies moving away from them.
However with the list of professions in this article I completely understand why these procedures are in place, particularly when innocent civilians lives are in their hands.