Do you know when to drug test your employees? There are a number of different factors to consider, and it’s essential to prepare properly.

Your sector and business type will inform your approach. Some businesses will have a regulatory requirement to administer drug tests to employees. That is generally the case when you have a workplace where accidents could be a significant risk to people, or when you produce something that could be dangerous if employees aren’t fully functioning while working. Food and chemical businesses and heavy industry or production environments are common workplaces where drug testing is expected.

Of course, you don’t have to be producing something that could hurt people to be concerned about employee sobriety and performance. Chances are, no matter what service you provide or goods you produce, you don’t want your employees to be impaired at work.

There are a few considerations when it comes to administering drug tests. If it’s voluntary and not a regulatory requirement, you need to weigh the benefits and costs. Overuse of drug testing may be perceived by your employees as threatening. They may feel it’s a vote of non-confidence or that you doubt them in some way. It may take away from productive time at work, and bring added costs, and in some circumstances it could be regarded as an invasion of privacy.

However, you shouldn’t rule out voluntary drug tests entirely. Instead, come up with a systematic plan to use them appropriately. Integrate it into your company policy so the expectation is clear and non-discriminatory.

There are three points you may want to consider in your plan. You could include a drug test during the hiring process. You could include a regular, recurring, scheduled drug test for all employees or a predefined category of employees as part of employee expectations. This might be administered on an annual or quarterly rotation. Or you might include a procedure for drug testing in the case of reasonable suspicion in your employee policy.

The reason you should prepare your plan ahead of time is to avoid allegations of discrimination or bullying when a situation arises. If you observe substance misuse on the premises or signs of impairment among your employees, you want to have a policy in place and procedure to follow for both their protection and yours. Grounds for reasonable suspicion include observing employees misusing substances or behaving erratically. It’s important to make factual observations and document them, and to avoid hearsay or potential discrimination.

Accessing the actual drug testing is relatively simple. Matrix Diagnostics Drug Testing is one of the companies that offer this service. You do not need to have in-house drug testing facilities or expertise to use drug testing when needed. But identifying a drug testing facility, creating a policy and procedure for when you need it, and being prepared to use drug testing as a tool to ensure workplace safety and quality will help you in the long run.

The type of business you operate will influence what type of drug testing policy and procedure you need. Outsourcing the actual testing and having a policy for rare circumstances is the go-to solution for the majority of businesses.