Screening for illicit drug use is a critical part of acquiring and maintaining a drug-free workplace. More and more it is being considered commonplace for an employer or prospective employer to require a drug screen. The importance of having the workplace be drug-free is notable. This paper will look at where drug screening is acceptable and where it is not; ultimately generating a several general principles to serve as a guide to appropriateness. First and foremost, any position that requires the absolute safety of the incumbent or other people.
Those who operate machinery, vehicles, and equipment that any sort of impairment could cause harm, loss of life, or damage to property. There are benefits from a legal and insurance perspective. The firm must cover itself to avoid facing a lawsuit should something happen that could have been easily screened. The investment of what amounts to be a negligible amount compared to the obvious payout in the case of an accident. Also, health professionals would be in this category as well.
Physicians, surgeons, nurses, and other staff at health facilities and doctors’ offices would all be part of this requirement. Another area where there would be a strong need for drug screening would be in the public safety sector. Police officers, corrections officers, fire fighters, and other associated positions require a good deal of judgment that drug induced impairment could be problematic and potentially life threatening. These positions require the public trust. Impairment of a public safety officer could imperil others as they are the first responders in emergencies.
Also, police officers carry weapons and make life or death decisions. To have the possibility of drug use to diminish their faculties would represent a grave danger to the public at large. Another set of positions that would be likely candidates for drug screening would be those positions that interact with children and the elderly specifically. Teachers, day care workers, and other children related positions require extra diligence as well as having people around the most impressionable members of society.
Those taking illicit drugs, aside from the obvious dangers they expose children to, set a bad example and could impact early childhood development. Essentially, it creates the impression that drug use is acceptable. Additionally, the elderly require additional attention and care. Those who are impaired or have slower reflexes present a care challenge. There has been a lot of press in the past couple of years about drug use, specifically steroids, in the area of professional and semi-professional sports.
In this case, drug use presents a long term health danger that is often not considered against the allure of short-term performance enhancement. However, sports cannot have an uneven playing field of some playing by the rules and others “doping” up on steroids and hormones. While there might be positions that could be viewed from the viewpoint that drug screening would not be helpful, the vast majority of positions have an organization seeking top performance from current and potential employees.
Perhaps, rote jobs or positions that do not require movement, judgment, or clear faculties would be on that this. For that reason, having either random or pre-employment screening is helpful as a matter of course. That means that employers have the right to get the best they can out of a worker. If there is a problem or impairment, the organization is open to a serious of liabilities that could be potentially screened out with a drug screen panel. This means that the company can make hiring and firing decisions that are in the best long term interests of the organization.