A single individual under the influence of drugs or alcohol can cause irreparable damage in only seconds. The Baltimore Sun recently published a remarkable example that drives home the importance of workplace drug and alcohol testing programs. If an employee is under the influence and causes an injury, the employer will be held liable for damages. If you have not implemented any effort to mitigate drug and alcohol use, like a random drug testing program, the consequences could be even more severe.
In March, six construction workers were tragically killed in Baltimore on Interstate 695. One local woman collided with a second driver’s vehicle and spun out of control. Her car entered a work zone through a gap in the temporary jersey barriers and killed six workers. The driver in question confessed to taking five prescriptions, including oxycodone and marijuana, that were prescribed to her. A blood test after the crash indicated the presence of THC, and troopers on the scene also saw visible signs of impairment.
While the first driver was charged with 28 counts, including negligent vehicular manslaughter and driving while impaired by drugs, the second driver has been charged as well. Federal investigators found that, while the first driver was operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, both drivers were traveling over the speed limit and weaving in and out of traffic prior to the collision.
The example above is extreme, but there are countless crimes committed by those who are under the influence of drugs. Beyond positivity rates rising in random drug screens, post-accident testing is also showing alarming increases in positivity for marijuana, cocaine, and opiates. If you are not proactively testing your employees, you could be found liable in the event that one of them is operating heavy machinery, performing sensitive tasks, or even driving a vehicle on-site.
A robust random drug testing program remains one of the best ways to minimize harm and protect your business, your employees, and anyone visiting your property. The primary goal of drug testing is to stop accidents before they occur. While there is no way to look at the past and determine whether that could have stopped these tragic deaths, you can plan for the future.
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs since 1999. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. To learn more about the rights of employees who test positive for marijuana, Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: email@example.com or the website at randisiandassociates.com