Accidents in the workplace are an unfortunate question of when, not if. The training and safety culture in your business will determine how well the effects of this are mitigated in your workplace — how great the impact is both for the affected employees as well as your business operations.
While the processes that surround the treatment of the injured and the restoration of productivity may be fairly intuitive, if not outright legislated in your industry, the issue of post-accident drug screenings is a little less cut-and-dry. Below, we will briefly explore the issues of post-accident screenings and the concerns felt by both employees and employers.
Controversies in Drug Screening
Drug screenings, in general, have generated some controversy, being seen frequently as an invasion of privacy. Many of these tests can unearth personal medical information that may not be in any way relevant to the matter at hand. The handling of these test results are regulated, as all uses of medical information are, but the additional scrutiny is not always welcome.
The methods of testing are also seen by some as embarrassing, degrading, or the implication of suspicion itself may be taken offensively. These concerns apply universally to the issue of drug testing, but can cause additional concerns when applied after an accident has occurred on the job site.
After all, we may be talking about an employee that was injured while working their job — even if this individual doesn’t have privileged medical information that may be discovered, they may take this kind of policy as an accusation of misconduct. That said, the justifications for a business to enact these sorts of policies are manifold, but with an understanding of employee concerns, unnecessary tensions can be avoided.
Why We Need It
While employee concerns should be addressed with all reasonable care, the reality is that every job site in every business has some potential or propensity for accidents and injuries, and every business has, therefore, a responsibility not only to its bottom line and the safety of its employees, but also in every stage at which its operations interact with the greater environment.
Take commercial drivers, as an example. These workers traffic our roadways every day, typically in very large vehicles. As substance abuse affects many elements of a person’s life, on and off the substance, it’s important that these workers maintain a high level of safety — and determining the potential impact of the driver’s behaviors in the event of an accident become crucial, from a perspective of liability.
This is why the Department of Transportation places such strict regulations on the commercial drivers, requiring them to have routine physical examinations and screenings to ensure these drivers are and remain safe operators.
Businesses like Workflow Orlando have stepped up to assist commercial drivers and the businesses they work for in following industry regulations, reducing the occurrences of accidents as well as controlling the degree of liability to the business.
While prevention is the name of the game when it comes to safety, and the vast majority of safety programs clearly reflect this philosophy, post-accident screenings have an important part to play as well. In all senses, it’s important that an injured employee be in proper shape to continue their duties or the likely result will be another, surely unnecessary incident.
Substance abuse being a lifestyle habit should be viewed in just the same way — if it caused a problem once, it can surely cause another. The impacts on production and employee morale are enough of a drain, and a single incident of liability can be damaging enough.
Allowing a substance-abusing employee to continue their duties through ignorance is opening the door to a what could easily become a crippling series of legal actions and negative media attention that could destroy a business in short order.
Evan Maukonen is a freelance writer and business major who contributes articles and advice on topics ranging from emerging technology and software to the challenges faced by entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses.