Drug testing in the workplace: Independent Study Summary

Discussion in 'Marijuana Legalization' started by StayTrue, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. So, I recently moved to the UK from the US and just got a new job so was wondering about the possibility of drug testing. I was talking to my girlfriend about it and she said "Couldn't you just say you went to Amsterdam for the weekend?" and I was like, "Heck yes I could." Unlike the US, in Europe there is a place you can get high 100% legally -- Amsterdam. This got me wondering about the general practice of drug testing in Europe since it would be so easy to get out of any allegations. Surely they wouldn't make you come up with plane tickets to prove your trip. Anyways, I still wanted to get a little better idea of what actually goes on and while looking it up online, I found this interesting, though maybe a bit dated, piece of research on drug testing at work and I thought I'd share it. Unfortunately, this is from 7 years ago, and therefore I still don't know much about the current trends in drug testing here, so if you have any information, it'd be appreciated. :wave:


    What role, if any, does drug and alcohol testing have in the workplace in modern Britain? In what circumstances, if any, should an employer discipline or dismiss staff for using drugs and alcohol? Does business have a legitimate involvement in what people do in their own time? The report from the Independent Inquiry on Drug Testing at Work (IIDTW) sets out and considers the arguments on drug testing at work, and concludes with a set of detailed recommendations. Over an 18-month period, the IIDTW considered written and oral evidence from employers and employees, providers of drug testing services, trade unions and business organisations, insurers and police officers, occupational health physicians and health and safety specialists, natural and social scientists, lawyers, philosophers and other experts in drug testing policy. This was an independent inquiry, facilitated by DrugScope and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Network of European Foundations.

    Key findings:
    • The evidence on the links between drug use and accidents at work, absenteeism, low productivity and poor performance was inconclusive. Most employers who had drug tested employees told the IIDTW that levels of positive results were very low.
    • There is a lack of evidence for a strong link between drug use and accidents in safety-critical industries, such as transport, engineering, quarrying and mining. Clearly, however, drug- and alcohol-induced intoxication will be a source of risk in such environments.
    • However, other factors may have a greater impact on safety, productivity and performance, including bad working conditions, sleeping and health problems, excessive workloads and work-related stress.
    • Evidence considered by the IIDTW suggests that alcohol is probably a greater cause for concern in the workplace than illicit drugs.
    • There is no clear evidence that drug testing at work has a significant deterrent effect.
    • Drug testing is not a measure of current intoxication and will reveal information about drug use that can have no impact on safety, productivity or performance. Someone may test positive after taking a drug days, weeks or months before.
    • People are not generally required to organise their lives to maximise their productivity at work, and employers do not have a direct law enforcement function. Empowering employers to investigate private behaviour actively - in the absence of legitimate safety or performance concerns - is in conflict with liberal-democratic values.
    • The IIDTW found that the legal position on drug testing at work is confused. Employers could be open to legal challenge if they invade the privacy of employees unnecessarily, particularly under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Data Protection Act 1998.
    • Drug testing services in the UK are being provided by a very disparate group of companies and individuals. Many of them are very responsible. But the picture is mixed, with evidence that some of these companies may be making what appear to be inflated claims about the extent and impact of alcohol and drug problems in the workplace and the effectiveness of their own products.
    • Remarkably little is known about the extent of drug testing at work in the UK. Perhaps the most reliable information comes from a small survey conducted by the IIDTW which found that 4 per cent of employers who responded were conducting drug tests, and a further 9 per cent were 'likely' to introduce drug tests in the next year.
    • Many employers and experts who gave evidence to the IIDTW highlighted the costs of drug testing at work. These include not only financial costs but also the potentially divisive nature of testing and the costs of excluding otherwise responsible and capable people from employment.

    This is the bit I found about the actual trends in drug testing in the UK. Again, it's dated and I'm not sure how well it represents the current trends.

    Trends and trajectories
    A MORI poll was conducted on behalf of the IIDTW in 2003. Over 200 companies were surveyed, of which 4 per cent conducted drug tests and a further 9 per cent said that they were likely to introduce tests in the next year. In addition, 78 per cent said that they would be more likely to test if they believed that drug or alcohol use was affecting performance or productivity. Overall numbers might seem comparatively low on the MORI findings, but this is highly misleading. If 4 per cent of businesses are drug testing this will affect hundreds of thousands of employees. If the 9 per cent of businesses who told MORI that they were likely to introduce testing in the next year do so, then this trebles the proportion of UK businesses testing over a 12-month period.

    If you want to read more, here is the link to the website
    • Like Like x 1
  2. [​IMG]
    In fact, the number of medical marijuana patients are increasing in Oregon, as work injuries are declining.
  3. Well, though I wouldn't say that this proves Marijuana doesn't increase the number or accidents at work, it also doesn't prove the opposite. The fact that the number of accidents goes down may have to do with other factors such as new laws/legislation aimed or technology aimed at better health and safety of the workforce.
  4. I knew a company of scaffolders who'd smoke before work every day and multiple times during the day. They'd work on the side of buildings all day long stonned off their nuts and in the years that I knew them they never had an accident.

    This doesn't mean everybody should be allowed to smoke at work but it does contradict the widely held belief that smoking marijuana automatically leads to accidents and irresponsible employees.
  5. Try telling that to all the companies making the big bucks off all these tests.

Share This Page