Drug Testing at Work Places

     In most organizations in the United States organizations require that persons seeking engagement with the organizations take up some test, which is aimed at determining whether those persons are involved in substance abuse or not. This practice has drawn a lot of opposition mainly from the employees, who claim that it is unethical for the organizations to do this. The question that comes to mind then is whether this practice is really ethical or not. One thing that is certain for sure is that there is a great possibility that persons who attend an interview would have had a beer the previous night. There still remains no standard measure of the amount of alcohol in the blood that would be generally acceptable as too much. This means that persons could be unfairly denied jobs for the simple reason that they had a drink. It is notwithstanding that some of the best employees may be partakers in recreational drinking for instance. At the same time, the intention in testing of persons is that potential harm to persons is eliminated. Scientific studies have established that most of the cases of accidents and even absenteeism have been associated with persons who have in one way or another been using drugs. In this case, it is understood that ethicality largely depends on what is acceptable by the majority as bearing the greater good for the greater number of people. It has been established that testing for drugs in work places has significantly reduced the cases of persons working under the influence of the drug. Many organizations contend that one of the most effective ways, and even cheap ways of ensuring effective management was to conduct drug test on workers. This, they argue, reduces the number of persons who either do not show up, or who just become liabilities to the organizations. This eventually translated into profitability for the organization. Questions have been raised however, regarding the extent to which the employers can go into the privacy of the employees. This has sparked serious debate within the various interest groups, even at some point resulting in legal suits. What complicates the issue most is the fact that there lacks clarity as to who can or should be tested. This is a very serious question because there are employees who perform their duties with great diligence and in an outstanding manner. Should they be subjected to the test as well? Would such testing be acceptable to an extent that it does not kill the morale of the employees? What ought to be done in this case? These are some of the questions that this study will be trying to answer.

An Overview of the Drug Testing Issue
As already indicated, drug testing has become a tool of choice for most of the managers in various organizations. According to the UN, more that eight percent of the trade that takes place in the world is from the drug business. This is a very high percentage considering that there are several kinds of business operations. It is also to say that most of these drugs find their way into the lives of the individuals that organizations depend on for their daily operations. At the same time, it is important to note that use of drugs, especially alcohol is only harmful if it is taken to the extreme. There are a high percentage of persons who for instance take alcohol for recreation. What would be their fate, especially if they be unemployed, and show up at an interview where they have to be tested?

In the year 1998 alone, the Forensic Science Agency tested over one million people at work places. This was seen as having been very successful in especially the areas of transport, manufacturing, finance and construction industries. Presently, so many organizations have been rushing to get their employees tested for drugs (The American Civil Liberties Union, 2009). This rush is informed partly by the need for the prevention of accidents that result from the operations by drug influenced persons. Studies that have been conducted in the United States among persons who had been using substance revealed that there was more than thirty three percent of productivity reduction (Smith et al., 2004). This is a huge percentage. It is important therefore to consider that the decision by most of the organizations to conduct drug tests is not unfounded.

Comparative studies have shown that persons who engaged in the abuse of substance were often late (three times or more), had the likelihood of hurting others (four times) more than those who did not abuse it, as well as avoided going to work for over ten times. These are alarming realities, which would undoubtedly make any employer want to take measures to prevent this kind of realities. However, these also present a challenge to the employers with regard to the way of acting considering the extent of the problem. The law also protects the individuals against the excessive penetration into their private lives.

A study conducted in one state in America revealed that after the introduction of testing for drugs, there was on average, a reduction of the above mentioned vices by over ninety one percent (The American Civil Liberties Union, 2009). This was a great reduction. In many other companies, it was established that after random testing was introduced, there was a significant reduction in the cases of substance abuse at work places. It is worth noting that although the employers have no right to get into the private lives of the employees, if the private of the employees interfere with the daily operations of the firm call for concern from all quarters (Smith et al., 2004). It is also important to note that there are cases where the substance being abused also constitutes an offense in the law. This would require the intervention of the law enforcers.

The Ethics in Drug Testing
In order to properly illustrate why testing for drug abuse among employees may be of help, an example may suffice. It has been established that over thirty seven percent of male doctors, and over twelve percent of female doctors, in the junior level, were found to be substance abusers. This was a shocking revelation if the results are anything to go by. The reason why this is so significant is that the role of doctors is ensuring that lives are preserved. Going by the statistics provided, that the rate of performance impairment is more than thirty three percent, it simply means that if such a doctor or doctors were operating on a patient, there is a thirty three percent chance that they will not make it. This is simply due to the fact of drug influence. This is a very high percentage because in major operations, there is virtually no hope of survival for the patients. In this case it is a question of the privacy of the doctors against the lives of the patients. It is simply unacceptable that patients would be allowed to die in order to protect the privacy of the doctors. It remains unknown to this very point, how many patients have passed on as a result of the operations that were conducted under the influence of drugs. This means that the case for drug testing has some very strong points. The implication in this example is that if the understanding of ethics is anything to go by, this practice is very ethical. However, even where it is done, it must not go beyond the reasonable proportions. It is also important that whenever such random testing is done, it should be done in such a way that does not leave the employees feeling disgruntled. The manner in which it is done should not admit of any insensitivity, because it would also end up being unethical. The government should ensure that proper education is conducted in order to eliminate cases of millions of unsatisfied work force, as well as eliminate the cloud that lingers around the extent of privacy (The American Civil Liberties Union, 2009).

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