Drug & Alcohol Testing Turns Costly

Jim Luff
Posted on November 17, 2011
Whether legally required or not, the nagging costs are an investment in safety.
Today, I paid a $60 invoice for a pre-employment drug and alcohol test. The person that was tested made it through the application process and has now been employed for three weeks. I thought about how many of these invoices I have paid that didn’t work out either because the applicant had a positive test result, decided not to take the job, or didn’t make it through the training process. I thought about how wonderful it would be if we could pass the cost on to the applicant.
The truth is, most people who are looking for a job probably would not have the $60 to pay the fee. But, wouldn’t it be nice if once they became employed you could charge them in three easy payments of $20 and consider it a “hiring fee.” I began to realize how cheap I was that I actually considered this.
My next thought was about a recent accident one of our drivers was involved in. It required an immediate DOT drug and alcohol test at a cost of $120. I really believed that since DOT requires post-accident testing, that the expense was truly accident-related as it was a direct expense of being involved in an accident. Not so, says Zurich insurance. Not only did they not cover the expense, they also didn’t cover broken glasses and champagne flutes, although they were a cost of the accident too, but that’s another story.
Then there is the expense of the random testing program. There is a one-time annual fee just for administering the program, and then, without any warning, they will call and ask me to send three drivers for testing. I suppose that is why they call it random testing. BAM! There is another invoice on the way for each driver randomly tested ranging from $60 to $100 depending on which test was administered.
While I gripe about it, I will be the first to tell you, we started doing random testing long before we were mandated to do it. Except, when we started operations nearly 21 years ago, we conducted pre-employment testing and then created a little piece of paper with the new driver’s name and threw in a bucket for “random testing.” Periodically, whenever we felt like it, we would draw a name out of the bucket and send someone for testing. There was no administrative fee and no science to how we randomly selected. However, we did feel it was a good investment in safety and demonstrated our commitment to safety by voluntarily conducting drug and alcohol testing. Whether you are mandated by law to conduct random tests or not, you should really view the expense as an investment in the safety of your passengers, your vehicles and your business.
   Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

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Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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