Post-Incident Drug Testing

Cardinal sent out an email alert on November 7, 2014 regarding Oregon Ballot Initiate 91, which decriminalized recreational marijuana. In the alert, we advised reviewing your DRUG TESTING policies and following some suggested best practices. This article focuses on best practices surrounding post-incident drug testing.

Before we delve too deep, let us review what usually happens. Often an employee reports that they have been injured and files a workers’ compensation claim. That triggers paperwork, an accident investigation and a post-incident drug test. It is easy to lump the injury and drug test together, because it usually works.

However, there are times when an employee who files a workers’ compensation claim should not be tested. Examples: Repetitive motion/exposure injuries where there was no single, traumatic incident. Or injuries caused by the actions of a co-worker. Before testing the injured employee you should ask yourself if there was an incident that necessitates testing, and who you should really test.

A Better Way: Post-Incident Testing

We advise employers to test post-incident, which includes (1) injury accidents, (2) property damage accidents, and (3) near misses.

To properly conduct a post-incident test, you need to consider when and whom to test. Near misses should often be treated the same way as if someone were injured. Evaluate the seriousness of the accident in relation to the potential injury severity, or property damage. Then decide who should be tested. Test only those employees who contributed to the incident.

Making the incident the “trigger” in your testing policy – rather than the workers compensation claim – also protects you against possible injured worker retaliation claims, and negligent hiring/retention lawsuits.

If you have an incident that warrants drug testing, or if you want help setting up a drug and alcohol testing policy, please contact Cardinal for assistance.

Arin J. Carmack