Fluid Check

Drug test debunking.

Nearly two decades after drug testing started catching on in U.S. workplaces, it is still relatively unusual in the U.K.

A new report from an independent British commission suggests it should stay that way.

The Independent Inquiry Into Drug Testing in the Workplace, a project funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and assisted by the think tank DrugScope, did 18 months of research, including surveys, reviews of the scientific literature, and input from experts, employers, and drug test providers. Its report, available at www.jrf.org.uk, concludes that "the evidence does not provide much support for alarmist claims about the impact of drug use on absenteeism, turnover, productivity or reputation. Nor has it been demonstrated that drug testing has a significant deterrent effect."

Even in safety-sensitive jobs, the commissioners recommend direct measurement of impairment, where feasible, rather than tests that detect traces of drugs long after their effects have worn off. "While it can have a useful role in some industries," they conclude, drug testing "is no substitute for good management practice."

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