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From: (Christopher Kaihatsu)
Newsgroups: alt.drugs
Subject: article from _Health_ magazine
Date: 17 Aug 1993 18:00:12 GMT
Message-ID: <24r6bc$>

this is reprinted without permission from _Health_ magazine, September '93
issue, pp. 18, 22.



Oshkosh, Wisc.--During the high-flying eighties, about a third of America's
medium- and large-sized companies began testing workers for drug use. Business
execs claimed the policies were necessary to ensure workplace safety. But if a
Wisconsin survey is any guide, drug testing just isn't paying off.

Dale Feinauer, a business professor at the University of Wisconsin, recently
examined employee accident and illness records at 48 firms from 1984 through
1988. A dozen of the companies had drug-testing programs. All o them screened
candidates before hiring, but five also tested employees after they were
involved in accidents or for such "reasonable cause" as erratic behavior.

Businesses with pre-employment and/or "reasonable cause" drug tests, Feinauer
found, had the same accident and illness rates as companies without. "A
pre-employment drug test is mostly an intelligence test--you have to be stupid
to get caught," says Feinauer. And reasonable-cause testing is too subjective:
Supervisors seldom know what constitutes a good reason to order a worker to
the restroom with a specimen cup. In fact, less than 10 percent of employees
tested for reasonable cause are found to have used drugs. 

Fewer mishaps were recorded at companies testing workers involved in
accidents. But the difference was slight, and Feinauer suspects that the
policy merely encouraged employees to cover up incidents in order to avoid
humiliating urinalyses.

If a company feels it must monitor employee drug use, says Feinauer, managers
should opt for mandatory random drug tests--for everybody. Until more is known
about how accidents happen in the workplace, though, it's an expense
businesses may not need.