Study Finds Positive Drug Tests on the Rise Among the U.S. Workforce

Well, the piss-wranglers over at Quest Diagnostics – the nation’s largest workplace drug testing firm – have released a new drug use report intended to scare the pants off of employers (and employees... literally).

The data revealed in the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ looks specifically at the calendar years between 2015 and 2017 and analyzes employee drug test failures, and causes, across 16 separate industries.

In 5 of those 16 industries, employee drug use rose each of the three years, led in overall failure rate by the retail sector where 5.3% of employees failed drug screenings.

No surprise there… have you ever had to work retail sober?

To compile their stats, Quest combed through over 10 million urine samples from across the country. This piss-rich crusher of careers has unrivaled access to the bodily fluids of the U.S. workforce.

The study examined retail and wholesale jobs, jobs in finance and real estate, warehousing, manufacturing, food services, construction, and more, but researchers determined that failure rates were higher in “consumer-facing” industries like retail and health care.

Though cannabis was the number one cause for drug test failure, coke and meth saw the largest year-over-year gains in failure rate suggesting that they are becoming more popular over time, particularly in the construction trades where cocaine use is 33% higher than the general U.S. workforce.

Quest says that 71% of employers reported “being directly impacted by prescription drug misuse in their workforce, including absenteeism, decreased productivity, and on-the-job near miss or injury.”

If you’re an employer, these numbers can be frightening. You can’t do all the work yourself, so what is a boss to do?

Why, pilfer the piss of your employees to make sure they aren’t having any fun in their own free time, of course!

Quest has been sounding these self-serving alarms since 1988 and expanding their reach into restrooms worldwide ever since. That’s a lot of pee pee, and a lot of money.

But in their exhaustive report, Quest curiously omits any hard data about actual workplace safety – so we dug deeper.

One visit to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website shows that at the end of that same timeframe, in 2017, a total of 5,147 workers died from a work-related injury in the U.S. Now, that sounds like a lot, and it is, but that number was actually DOWN from 2016. The fatal injury rate also saw a drop from ’16 to ’17.

When it comes to minor injuries and sickness, roughly “2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2017, occurring at a rate of 2.8 cases per 100 full-time workers. Both the number of injuries and illnesses and the rate of these cases declined from 2016.”

So, drug use is up, deaths/injuries/sickness is down.

To be honest, when dealing with so many variables (different industries, different drugs, etc.) you can manipulate these numbers to make just about any argument that you want. That’s our point.

Quest Diagnostics has a (large) financial interest in making sure that employers fear employee drug use.

Looking specifically at cannabis, as it is the most commonly “abused” substance on the list, a reckoning is coming for Quest shareholders in that weed is being legalized at lightspeed across the country and around the world.

While states have not yet taken the steps necessary to protect employees who are enjoying a legal product like cannabis in their free time, that major reform is coming sooner than later.

Just like with booze, you may rather have an employee who totally abstains from all liquor and alcohol, but as an employer you cannot mandate that. Instead you make workplace rules (no drinking on the job, show up sober, etc.), and you police actual productivity and safety.

In other words, are they doing their job correctly?

If so, it’s none of your goddamn business if they drink some beer on the weekend or in the comfort of their own home.

If they’re not doing their job correctly, and you determine that their lack of productivity is based on booze, then and only then should it become and employer/employee issue.

It needs to be the same way with weed, and it will be soon…whether the urine-sniffers at Quest like it or not.

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