Although the goals and provisions of a Drug-Free Workplace program and policy apply to all workers, testing is conducted under specific circumstances:
Employers who conduct pre-employment tests make offers of employment contingent on a negative drug test result. Pre-employment tests clearly decrease the chance of hiring a current substance abuser and they also have a strong “sentinel effect” in that such tests may discourage current users from seeking employment in Workplaces where pre-employment tests are done.
Employers who test following a serious accident or incident on the job usually develop criteria that establish the reasonableness of the suspicion that an employee’s substance use or abuse caused or contributed to the accident. In some cases, employees involved in accidents may be asked to take a drug test directly after an incident to determine if alcohol or drug use was a factor. A post-accident test may still be a company mandate, even if the accident does not appear to be drug or alcohol-related. Such testing may be necessary for legal or insurance purposes.
Many employers confine random tests to employees occupying positions of safety or security sensitivity. Employees in such positions are selected for testing through a bone fide, random process. Random tests provide a deterrent to substance use and abuse because individuals have no way of knowing when testing will be conducted or whether they will be selected for testing.
Employees returning to work following treatment for substance abuse are often subject to a return to work agreement that calls for follow-up testing at specified or random intervals to ensure that the employee is continuing to refrain from substance abuse.
Reasonable Suspicion Tests
Employers who test on the basis of a reasonable suspicion that an employee is abusing substances typically rely on such evidence as direct observation of use or possession, physical symptoms of being under the influence, patterns of abnormal or erratic behavior, or arrests or convictions for drug-related offenses.