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Addressing drug-related workers’ compensation costs with drug testing, P.3

In a previous post, we mentioned that employers who participate in the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Drug-Free Safety Program are eligible for workers’ compensation premium rebates. The rebate rate, as we noted, depends on the level of participation an employer selects.

While all participating employers are required to provide accident-analysis training, online accident reporting, workplace safety review, annual reporting, written policies, employee education, and supervisor training, advanced level participation requires more when it comes to safety action planning, and drug/alcohol testing. 

All participants in the program are required to provide pre-employment/new hire, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, return-to-duty, and follow-up testing. The following requirements apply to these types of testing:

  • Pre-employment or new hire testing is supposed to be at 100 percent for private employers, but public employers are only required to be at 100 percent for safety-sensitive or special needs positions.
  • Reasonable suspicion testing is required when it is “appropriate.”
  • Return-to-duty and follow-up testing is required for employees given a second chance after a positive test.
  • For private employers, post-accident testing is supposed to be conducted on any employee who may have caused or contributed to an accident based on an accident investigation. For public employers, testing should be conducted when there is documentation of reasonable suspicion after an accident investigation.

Employers participating in the Drug-Free Safety Program are not required to conduct post-accident testing if: (1) the accident only resulted in minor injury; (2) there was no violation of work rules; (3) an accident investigation did not uncover any reasonable suspicion of drug use; and (4) the accident occurred within the normal course of the injured employee’s work.

Employers participating in the advanced-level program are, in addition to the above drug-testing rules, required to conduct 15-percent random testing of their total average annual work force. For public employers participating at the advanced level, the 15-percent requirement only applies to the total average annual safety-sensitive positions.

In a future post, we’ll wrap up our discussion of this issue by looking at some of the factors employers should keep in mind when it comes to making use of drug testing in the workplace, whether or not they participate in the Drug-Free Safety Program, and the importance of working with experienced legal counsel in this area. 

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