By Ashley Burleson, analytics manager

Ninety-four percent of manufacturers across the United States currently have a drug policy in place, according to a recent report published by the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA). However, the recent Drugs in the Workplace Report revealed that, while manufacturers already have drug policies in place, many are searching for ways to update, improve or implement new policies in response to the country’s changing drug laws and the opioid crisis.

The Drugs in the Workplace Report is the first of its kind generated by AMBA. The report data come from a study done in collaboration with the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) and the Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers (ARPM). The questions and format of the study were guided by manufacturing industry professionals. The study included questions regarding the status of policies, types of drugs screened (Chart 1), situational drug testing, company programs and available education. Along with the study, company drug policies were collected from 48 US manufacturing organizations.

As stated above, the vast majority of manufacturers have written drug policies, but the thoroughness, implementation and relevance given changing landscapes vary greatly. For instance, three different potential situations for drug testing were surveyed: pre-employment drug screening, post-accident drug screenings and random drug testing. Of those, 81 percent of manufacturers always drug test before hiring an employee, 58 percent report always test post-accident (Chart 2) and only 28 percent conduct random drug screenings (Chart 3).

Some manufacturers indicated that they are required to drug test in specific situations due to their workers’ comp programs, while others remarked that the additional cost has kept them from screening employees.

Why is this important? According to a recent article by Federated Insurance, drug-testing employees actually saves companies money in the long run. These savings can come from direct savings through workers’ comp discounts or as indirect savings, since employees under the influence of drugs and alcohol are most likely to experience a workplace injury.

However, cost isn’t the only barrier to manufacturers drug-testing their employees. A tightened labor pool, legalization of marijuana and an opioid crisis have caused some in the industry to loosen their in-house procedures in regard to drug testing. As one executive put it, “If I randomly drug-tested some of my most reliable production employees, I know that they would fail. I simply cannot risk losing these key employees, especially in this labor market.”

Others have simply changed their policies, especially in areas where recreational and medicinal marijuana are legal. “We allow medical marijuana on drug screenings if the employee has a doctor’s authorization,” was reported by another study participant. Nevertheless, some manufacturers indicated that even though medicinal or recreational marijuana is legal in their area, they still do not allow testing positive on any drug screenings for this substance.

Rather than change the rules, many have turned to educational programming and employee assistance programs to maintain a drug-free workplace. While only 16 percent report that they host any on-site educational programs regarding the impact of drugs as a prevention or safety training, this number may continue to grow, as several have indicated they currently are looking to implement such training.

Along the same lines, 54 percent reported there is a company employee assistance program in place (Chart 4) that helps provide treatment through either in-patient or outpatient programs. Indeed, several of the policies submitted outline the process for accessing and utilizing these programs if an employee is struggling with drugs or alcohol.

By analyzing the policies submitted by manufacturers, additional topics were uncovered that other manufacturers may consider implementing. These include specific language regarding changing marijuana laws in their states, “failure to cooperate” clauses, inspection of personal property while an employee is on the job, employees’ right to contest a drug test result, allowing employees to come forward ahead of time if he/she may fail a drug test and seek assistance, and employee behavioral expectations while consuming alcohol or using drugs during work-related events.

To find out more and to purchase the Drugs in the Workplace Report, visit