Workplace Drug Testing: The Importance of Supervisory and Employee Education

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Many companies that have already answered the question, "Why drug test?"  and found plenty of good reasons (compliance, safety, health, worker's comp advantages, preventing liability).

Now they should ask themselves another question: "Why train my supervisors and my employees in our drug testing program?"

The answers are pretty much the same: compliance, safety, health, worker's comp advantages, and preventing liability.

Compliance? Yes, because...

-           7 states require require at least one-time supervisory training.

-          3 states require additional annual supervisory training

-          5 states require employee training

-          1 state requires employers to "develop a plan" for educating employees

But even in states with no requirement, it only makes sense to educate your supervisors and employees.

If you don't educate your supervisors and employees, you're taking on a whole new set of risks in your drug testing program.

It only makes sense: how can your supervisors and employees use your drug testing program to enhance safety and health in the workplace if they haven't been trained to implement the program?  (Employers with drug testing have experienced a 51% reduction in workplace injury rates within two years of implementing a drug-testing program.)

A company might find itself unable to take advantage of workers' compensation discounts if its supervisors have unwittingly fallen out of compliance with a particular state's drugfree workplace program.

Some states have the "presumptive denial of benefits," meaning that a properly executed drug testing program can make a workers' comp claim dissolve-but the company could lose the advantage if a supervisor fails to follow that particular state's  laws for post-accident testing.

Liability? If the employee's lawyer knows more than the employer and the supervisor about state drug testing laws, both the employer and supervisory could find themselves paying a price.  In a recent Ohio case a manager was hit with a $1.6 million judgment when one of his employees caused a death at work.

Supervisory and employee training is just one more piece of the drug testing program puzzle.

Unfortunately, there's no "cookie cutter" approach-each state has its own laws and you've got to understand and implement the laws in every state in which you conduct business.