ScreenDiscussion

Blogging background checking and security issues

3.08.2005

Drug Testing on the Decline

Do you drug test? The Arizona Republic recently published an article that states that drug testing was done in 2004 by only 62% of employers as a background check component, versus a high of 81% in 1996. Reasons cited are the costs associated with drug testing as well as problems dealing with the legal ramifications of positive drug tests. The article also talks about the rise of drug testing popularity in the 1990’s. I would be curious to see the actual results of the study in order to find out which industries are doing less drug testing and which haven’t changed much. If I had to guess, I would say that a lot of blue collar employers still do drug testing and that the white collar employers are the ones tapering off. It’s a no-brainer that if you have an employee operating heavy machinery around other people and product then you don’t want him to come to work stoned. However, if the employee is an accountant or stockbroker, working under the influence isn’t as much a safety hazard. He might make some mistakes with figures that cost the company some money, but being a little clumsy and mentally slow probably won’t put anyone in great physical danger. Don’t quote me on this.

It sounds to me like drug testing is like a lot of fads. It was a great idea, and many employers jumped on the bandwagon in order to look good in the public eye. But when the economy changed and there was less money around for extras, drug testing started being looked at with a more critical eye. There will probably always be employers who do some form of drug testing due to the nature of their industries, but now that the craze is over employers in industries where its value is somewhat questionable might decide to spend their money elsewhere. A background check might be good enough without it.

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