Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jun 2001
Source: Daily Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2001 The Gazette Newspapers
Author: A.J. Schell
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Schenectady International Inc. recently imposed a random drug testing 
requirement for all workers.

The Fourth Amendment guarantees us that we have a right to privacy, 
unless there is probable cause. Drug tests violate our constitutional 
right to privacy and presumption of innocence.

The worker is forced to defend himself against a charge without any 
evidence or suspicion. Workers are now treated as guilty until proven 
innocent. While lower courts have established random drug tests as 
unconstitutional for many state and federal agencies, unfortunately 
the Constitution only protects citizens of the government and not of 
private companies.

Contrary to what companies that test would have us believe, drug 
tests are not foolproof. In fact, only 85 percent of the laboratories 
in the United States currently testing for drugs meet federal 
standards for accuracy. And since private companies are not required 
to use certified labs, workers are being asked to put their job 
security in the hands of a test that has insufficient quality 

Drug testing has never been shown to improve workplace safety or 
productivity. Drug tests cannot distinguish between on-the-job use 
and private consumption. Drug tests do not detect alcohol, our 
nation's leading drug of abuse, nor do they detect fatigue or stress 
(the cause of one-third of all workplace accidents). Not only do drug 
tests not accomplish what they are intended to do, they actually 
create a negative effect on the workplace by decreasing worker 
morale, wasting huge sums of money, and taking the focus off employee 

Companies such as Schenectady International Inc. should consider an 
alternative to drug tests that does not invade privacy or compromise 
Fourth Amendment rights, known as impairment tests. These are 
computer-based, employee-operated tests that measure hand-eye 
coordination, visual tracking ability, and basic cognitive skills. 
They can be used daily and they provide immediate feedback, unlike 
drug tests, which can take days or weeks. Also, by focusing solely on 
performance, impairment tests detect impairment not only from drug 
consumption, but also from fatigue, emotional stress, and legal drugs 
such as alcohol and antihistamines.

These tests have lowered accidents by as much as 67 percent and 
workplace errors by over 50 percent.

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