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Drug Testing After Work Injuries: 5 Legal Tips for Employers

When an employee is injured on the job, demanding the injured employee submit to a drug test may prevent an employee whose was intoxicated at the time they were injured from claiming workers compensation benefits.

Unlike drug testing job applicants, however, drug testing employees isn't always legal. But when an employee is involved in a workplace accident and you have a reasonable suspicion the employee may be under the influence, you may typically require that worker to submit to a drug test.

How can you make sure your post-accident drug-testing policies and procedures are legally sound? Here are five tips:

  1. Have a written policy in place. Your company's drug testing policy should be included in your company's employee handbook. Employees should also be required to sign an acknowledgement agreeing to the terms included in the employee handbook.
  2. Test employees immediately following injury. If possible, demand an employee be drug tested immediately following an injury or accident. Waiting to administer a test may allow the employee to challenge whether he was intoxicated at the time of the injury or allow the drugs to be eliminated from the employee's system.
  3. Provide Emergency Care Regardless of Test Results. The same level of emergency medical care or assistance should be provided to employees who are injured on the job regardless of the results of any drug test.
  4. Have testing done by reputable lab. Using a reputable lab to process drug test results can prevent the results from being successfully challenged as inaccurate. Although not required for private employers, the Department of Labor recommends using Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration certified laboratories for workplace drug testing.
  5. Don't encourage use of alcohol or drugs at work. Encouraging or condoning the use of drugs or alcohol by employees while engaged in work-related activities may allow employees who are injured to collect workers comp benefits despite being intoxicated while injured.

If you need help drafting your employee handbook or setting your workplace policies on post-accident drug testing, an employment lawyer can explain the law in your state and help make sure you're covered in the event of a workplace injury.

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