Drug Testing

Statistical Results of the Benefits of Drug Testing

From large international corporations to small local companies, all companies that drug test appear to be successfully reducing workplace injuries, according to a new Cornell University study.

"While drug testing is controversial, this study provides useful data on a readily-measurable outcome," says the study's author, Jonathan Gerber, a student at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations who conducted the study as part of an independent research project.

Professor Robert Smith served as the advisor of this study.

In the last 15 years, drug testing in the workplace has gone from ground zero to widespread universal employer acceptance.

In 1983, less than one percent of employees were subject to drug testing.

Today, approximately 49 percent of full-time workers are subject to some form of workplace drug testing, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

High rates of drug- and alcohol-abuse in any industry, coupled with the high-risk, safety-sensitive nature of the industry's jobs have prompted many companies to implement a variety of safety strategies including drug testing - particularly when the safety of workers and the public hang in the balance.

The study, titled "An Evaluation of Drug Testing in the Workplace": A Study examining company injury incident rates and workers' compensation experience-rating modification factors over a period of five years.

The results reported are based on scientific analysis of data collected from 71 companies by a voluntary survey faxed to a randomly selected national sample of 405 companies in December 1999. Additional data was provided by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).

Among the study's findings:

The average company that drug tests in the study sample experienced a 51 percent reduction in its injury rate within two years of implementing a drug-testing program from a rate of 8.92 incidents per 200,000 work-hours to 4.36 incidents.

The difference was proven statistically significant when compared to the 14 percent decline in the average firm during the same time period.

As a result of fewer job site accidents and injuries, the average company that drug tests in the study sample experienced an 11.41 percent reduction in its workers' compensation experience-­rating modification factor.

At the same time, companies that did not implement drug testing programs saw no decline in their workers' compensation experience-rating modification factor.

This means that companies that drug test can save substantially on their workers' compensation premiums.

Drug testing is most effective in reducing workers' compensation experience-rating modification factors in the first three years immediately following the implementation of a program.

The vast majority of respondents, whether or not they utilized drug testing, thing substance abuse is a "moderately serious problem"

The majority of company officials who responded to the survey think the problem of drug and alcohol abuse on the job has dropped in the past five years.

Seventy-two percent of respondents with drug-testing programs in place said they think the benefits of drug testing outweigh the costs.

Company officials generally believed their drug-testing programs had a positive impact in virtually every respect.

The most positive impacts of the programs concerned the overall safety of the work environment, reductions in workers' compensation costs, and the quality of job applicants.

The number one reason why employers drug test their employees and job applicants is to promote the safety of their workers and those who use their products and services.

In addition, company officials believe that drug testing contributes positively to a company's image and is an effective deterrent in preventing drug abuse.

The study also revealed that larger companies are significantly more likely to test workers for drugs and alcohol.

This could make small firms particularly vulnerable to substance abuse problems as drug users may intentionally seek out employment where they are not likely to be detected.

If you have questions regarding Human Resources or employment regulations contact your legal counsel or Jennifer McBennett of Seay Management Consultants at 407-426-9484 or email her