Drug Testing Doesn’t Enhance Workplace Performance, Study Says

Layerthorpe, United Kingdom: Workplace drug testing programs do not deter employees from using illicit substances, nor do they increase workers’ on-the-job performance, according to a study released this week in Britain by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the think-tank DrugScope.

Authors of the report, entitled “Drug testing in the workplace: The Report of the Independent Inquiry into Drug Testing at Work,” determined: “The common assumption that drug and alcohol use has a major impact on productivity and performance at work is not conclusively supported by the evidence. … Nor has it been demonstrated that drug testing has a significant deterrent effect, or is the most appropriate way of identifying and engaging with staff whose drug use is affecting their work.”

Researchers were unable to find any conclusive evidence of a link between drug use and workplace accidents, except for alcohol.

Authors concluded that drug testing’s role in the workplace should be limited to safety critical industries, where “direct testing of impairment” rather than conventional drug screening is appropriate.

A previous report by the US Institute of Medicine analyzing the effectiveness of workplace drug testing concluded, “Despite beliefs to the contrary, the preventive effects of drug testing programs have never been adequately demonstrated. … There is as of yet no conclusive scientific evidence … that employment drug testing programs widely discourage drug use or encourage rehabilitation.”

Approximately half of all large US companies subject employees to drug tests.

Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed new federal drug testing guidelines to allow government employers to collect samples of employees’ hair, sweat and saliva to test for illicit substances.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of the NORML Foundation, at (202) 483-5500.