CAI’s Advice and Resolution team member Pat Rountree shares valuable information regarding the connection between drug testing and lower compensations costs for your business.
According to CAI’s most recent Policies and Benefits survey, 30% of employers are not conducting drug tests. Besides the obvious benefits of having a drug-free workplace, another side benefit from drug testing is that it may reduce your workers’ compensation costs. On the one hand, employees who are under the influence are more likely to experience injuries to themselves or others. So the knowledge that you conduct post-accident drug and alcohol testing will dissuade most employees and therefore reduce accidents and costs.
Also, under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, no compensation will be paid for a workplace injury or death if it was proximately caused by, among other things, the employee’s intoxication, provided the intoxicant was not supplied by the employer (company social event) or being under the influence of a controlled substance listed in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act (G.S. 90-86) unless it was prescribed by a doctor and the prescribed dosages were being followed. Note, there isn’t an automatic denial of claims due to intoxication but odds are in the employer’s favor unless it can be proven the accident was in no way related to the “altered state” so to speak.
The best way to increase the odds that such claims will be denied is to incorporate a comprehensive drug and alcohol testing policy. Without such a policy, denial of workers’ compensation claims due to being under the influence may be harder to achieve.
North Carolina employers who drug test are required to comply with the NC Controlled Substances Examination Regulation Act which regulates notice requirements to examinees, requires approved laboratories and chain of custody safeguards, specifies conditions for applicant and employee testing, requires confirmation tests on positive samples, and entitles an employee who tests positive to have a retest, if requested, of the same sample at the employee’s expense.
Many states have a provision in their Workers’ Compensation law disqualifying an employee for compensation if the injury was caused by being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A number of states also give discounts on Workers’ Compensation premiums (generally 5-7%) for implementing a Drug-Free Workplace Program. CCH, the Members-only resource, provides State Law Summaries on Workers’ Compensation laws.
CAI encourages drug-free workplaces. The US Department of Labor has resources for developing a drug-free workplace program. While this is a requirement for federal contractors, the resources are helpful to all employers. Consult the state law for specific requirements in other states. Our drug-testing partner, PDSS, is also a resource for policy development, testing, and in-depth expertise in this area.
For more information on how you can reduce your company’s cost of workers’ compensation through drug testing, please contact our Advice and Resolution team today at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.