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Can we skip a post-accident drug test?


An employee caused an accident that resulted in equipment damage exceeding the dollar amount listed in our drug-free workplace policy. We really don’t want to bother with a test. No one was hurt, and it was an accident that could have happened to anyone in our line of work. And besides, there’s no way this guy uses drugs. Can we skip the test?


Testing may seem like a hassle sometimes, particularly after a non-injury accident, since medical attention, treatment and workers’ compensation are not an issue. Choosing just to repair the damage and skip testing may be tempting.

However, a strong drug-free workplace program and policy provides clear guidance about testing in accident situations. Going against policy can undermine the legitimacy of the drug-free workplace program to employees, including supervisors, as well as set dangerous precedent. The best practice, then, is to have an objective measure against which to make post-accident testing decisions (i.e., clear, measurable definitions of “accident” and “post-accident testing”). Personal opinions about the person or situation should not be a part of the equation!

A proactive drug-free workplace program has, at its core, a foundation in prevention. Testing following qualifying accidents can encourage attention to safety and cost containment associated with medical claims and property damage.

Remember, a post-accident test is not an accusation of the employee. It is simply part of a responsible, thorough accident investigation. With that, if you find your definition of an “accident” isn’t working for some reason (e.g., it seems you’re testing too much, the damage amount in the definition seems too low or too high), then an official change to the policy may be warranted. But acting contrary to policy is not a wise move.