The manufacturing industry has been the backbone of America ever since the Industrial Revolution in the early nineteenth century. It has helped us through two world wars and has shaped the technological landscape that we see today. As one of the most necessary industries in the world, we all depend on it in one form or another.

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Why Drug Test in the Manufacturing Industry?

Manufacturing has been a staple of importance for producing all of the items we see and use today. However, it is not without its costs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 4,609 fatal occupational injuries happened in 2011 with manufacturing listed as one of the riskiest industries. Employees in this industry are exposed to a number of risks including working with heavy/dangerous machinery, exposure to harmful chemicals, slips/falls, among others. With so many risks in the manufacturing industry, it is not hard to see why employers choose to offer a safer work environment through effective drug and alcohol testing.

According to an official Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association national study, after the implement of a drug testing program, one fifth (or 19%) of employers saw an increase in employee productivity, a reduced absenteeism rate, a significant drop in worker’s compensation incident claims, and an employee turnover decrease.

A survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that over half of the adults (18+) that are employed full time are using some substance of abuse on a regular basis. Drug screenings can help employers limit risk by making sure you hire the right, substance free individual for the job.

Drug Abuse By Industry – Manufacturing
Position Current Illicit Drug Use (%) Current Heavy Alcohol Use (%)
Electrical Machinery 5.6 % 2.7 %
Lumber and Wood Products 8.9 % 12 %
Machinery 6.7 % 7.3 %
Metal Industries 6.8 % 10 %
Professional Equipment 7.7 % 7.3 %
Transportation Equipment 4.8 % 8.2 %
Source: US Department of Labor

What kind of drug testing should manufacturing company perform?

As manufacturing is one of the riskiest industries in terms of potential accidents, most employers opt to use Instant Saliva testing. This is preferred method for making sure there are no drugs being done on the job, as drug use will be immediately detectable in saliva (whereas it could take up to an hour to be detectable in urine). Post accident and reasonable suspicion testing is best done via saliva tests. These tests can also be done basically anywhere and eliminate the need for same-sex observers. They are also basically impossible to cheat.

Random drug testing still primarily consists of urine drug tests. Often, manufacturing companies opt for multi-panel drug tests that test for a high number of drugs, sometimes more than a dozen. This is usually done by the companies in high risk areas to weed out people who abuse lesser known drugs.

Many manufacturing companies have also started testing for synthetic drug tests including the so called bath salts and other synthetic drugs, as the popularity of those drugs increases. Some also test for alcohol for incidents that happen on the job site and some also test for nicotine for medical insurance purposes.

Due to the high accident rates in the manufacturing industry it is vital for management to take necessary steps to implement programs and procedures that will increase manufacturing safety and worker productivity. While the effects of a drug-related jobsite accident can be catastrophic for individuals and companies, management should realize that drug use among employees can be damaging to moral, productivity, and quality even if it does not result in accidents.

Drug testing manufacturing workers is an effective method for reducing the number of impaired workers in a factory, increasing overall safety, worker morale, productivity, and profits.

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