post accident drug testing
post accident drug testing

clock June 5, 2019

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A Guide to Drug Testing an Employee Post Workplace Accident

Business owners seek to strike an equal balance between protecting their business and encouraging a safe workplace. They seek to provide workers with a safe working environment but acknowledge that accidents do occur. 

When an accident does occur, a business owner may feel conflicted. Especially, if the employee involved in the accident is suspected to be under the influence. In this case, the employer may require the employee to take part in post accident drug testing. 

By taking part in post-accident drug testing, the employer can learn more about the cause of the accident. This is especially vital if a fatality or a serious injury requiring medical attention is reported. It’s also essential when company property is destroyed or damage. 

Business owners do their best to protect workers by training them and following safety guidelines. But, a business owner cannot always take full responsibility for the accident in question. To get down to the bottom of a serious accident or injury on the job, it’s important to discover what exactly the cause was. 

Part of finding out the cause may be to conduct post-accident drug testing. Read on to discover more about post-accident drug testing and how to implement this at your business. 

Post Accident Drug Testing: Getting the Facts Straight

Business owners are subject to many laws and regulations. Some industries require workers to receive post-accident drug testing while others do not. Despite what industry you are in, having a clearly defined substance abuse policy can make your expectations clear. 

However, you may still need to adhere to OSHA regulations, state and federal laws, and worker’s comp to ensure you aren’t infringing on the rights of your employee. Doing so could simply make a bad situation worse, which is why it’s important to know how to perform post-accident drug testing.

Performing post-accident drug testing can also help your business in other ways. It can lower your worker’s comp premiums and it may discourage employees from using drugs altogether. Having this policy in place may also help with worker’s comp claims

Knowing exactly what happened because of an accident can also prevent future accidents. It may also encourage a business owner to implement a random drug testing policy, new safety rules, or encourage employees to report when a coworker is under the influence.

Explore the following ways to implement a post-accident drug testing policy at your business. 

1. Substance Abuse Policy

First and foremost, your business needs to have a well-documented substance abuse policy. This policy should be relayed to all employees. Employees should also receive a copy of the policy to ensure they understand what’s required. 

Make sure to also document when the employee received the policy. It’s a good idea to have the employee sign and date a copy of the substance abuse policy for additional protection. 

The substance abuse policy can allow you to conduct random drug testing, pre-employment drug testing, and post-accident drug testing. Outline in the policy that post-accident drug testing will only occur if there is suspicion of drug use present. 

2. Following Laws and Regulations

When providing post-accident drug testing, it’s important to follow all laws and regulations. These vary from industry to industry, so it’s vital that you conduct this research beforehand. It’s also a good idea to speak with a lawyer to ensure you’re lawfully providing post-accident drug testing.

3. OSHA Standards

OSHA rules require that the employees feel safe to report illness and injuries on the job without fear of retaliation. Employers must also notify their employees of this rule. 

In addition to this rule, employees should not be discouraged from reporting workplace injuries and accidents. This means that all policies, including a post-accident drug testing policy, needs to be “reasonable” so workers aren’t deterred from reporting. Since this policy needs to be reasonable, that means that not all employees can be drug tested post accident without reasonable suspicion that drug use was involved.

In other words, a business cannot mandate that all employees be drug tested after a workplace injury, illness, or accident.

4. Types of Drug Testing

There are five types of drug testing. These include a blood test, urine test, hair test, breathalyzer test, and an oral swab test

The type of drug test used will depend on state and federal laws. It should also be outlined in the substance abuse policy. Oral and urine tests, however, are commonly used because they can detect recent drug use.

5. When to Test

All tests need to be completed with 8 to 12 hours after the workplace accident occurs. This allows any drugs to be detected before they leave the employee’s system. This window is much shorter, however, for alcohol which leaves the body more quickly.

For alcohol tests, aim to test within the first 3 hours. 8 hours is the maximum amount of time to test for alcohol and get accurate results.

6. Where to Test

Drug tests can be conducted at a third party location or on-site. Outline where, when, why, and what drug tests will be conducted in your substance abuse policy. If an employee cannot be tested, then they simply will not be required to do so.

If an employee refuses to be tested, then a reason must be documented. Based on your policies, disciplinary action can also ensue.

Post Accident Drug Testing in the Workplace

Conducting post accident drug testing after a workplace injury, fatality, or property damage can prevent future problems. While these tests need to be conducted in a legal manner and with proper cause, they should be given when reasonable suspicion arises. 

After giving an employee a post-accident drug test, it’s important to not allow them to return to work until the results come back. It’s also important to have a back-up test in case the employee’s sample is positive. Having this “split test” can also be useful if the employee appeals the results.

To learn more about post-accident drug testing, research the laws in your city, state, and adhere to federal laws. You should also speak with your worker’s comp insurance agency to see if there are any benefits to conducting these drug tests. Lastly, you should follow all OSHA regulations to ensure you are providing a mentally, emotionally, and physically safe work environment for all of your employees. 

Need to purchase worker’s comp insurance? Contact us today to work with a reputable worker’s comp brokerage firm. 

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