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Marijuana and Workplace Safety

As attitudes toward marijuana grow more lenient, organizations’ drug-testing policies also vary greatly from pre-employment to post-accident testing. In some industries, a combination of random testing along with pre-employment and post-accident is used. An estimated 11 million workers in safety sensitive industries are required by federal regulations to conduct random testing, regardless of the vast changes in state laws. Random testing requirements can of course pose financial constraints on smaller companies within those industries. However, evidence presented on the effects of drugs on organizational safety and productivity cannot be ignored.

Best Practices for Employers

To ensure compliance, employers and human resource professionals should review workplace drug-use policies. Explain employees what is expected of them, and how drug use compromise safety standards and productivity in the workplace. For employers who choose to adopt a drug-free policy regardless of state law, such actions are to be communicated with employees, and the disciplinary measures to follow. At times, this will imply firing a top-tier employee, however, the company will gain support from employees when the policy is implemented fairly and consistently across the organization. For managers in safety sensitive organizations such as truck drivers, pipeline workers, airline pilots, etc.; having the ability to recognize the sign of drug use in employees will further help in minimizing safety hazards and production loss.

Overall, an effective drug-testing policy make it easier for managers and supervisors to communicate their expectations with the workplace. Such policies serve as a deterrent on marijuana. Employers who do not have them in place, nor implement them are left with employees who are more likely to use marijuana, either out of ignorance or just because they can. Leading to the high cost of absenteeism, safety, medical, and productivity challenges.


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