Why is drug testing often part of a workers’ compensation claim?

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

People don’t go to work expecting to get hurt on the job. They want to perform their job functions and come home with a paycheck at the end of the week. Unfortunately, most forms of employment involve some degree of risk for the worker. Some jobs are associated with obvious dangers, such as construction professions where workers must do their jobs at a significant elevation. Other professions, like retail jobs or office work, may seem reasonably safe. However, employees can and do still get hurt even in the most benign professions.

Employers responding to a report of a worker’s injury on the job often request a drug test as part of the workers’ compensation claims process. Why is drug testing often necessary before someone can obtain benefits?

Many companies operate drug-free workplaces

Businesses actually have an incentive to engage in drug and alcohol testing after someone gets hurt on the job. Companies can qualify for lower workers’ compensation costs when they voluntarily become drug-free workplaces.

One of the many requirements imposed in the voluntary drug-free workplace program is the obligation to conduct testing after an incident leaves a worker injured. If a worker fails their drug testing, they could face several major challenges. The first is that their employer might potentially have grounds to terminate them for being under the influence on the job. The second is that the test could complicate their workers’ compensation claim.

Technically, simply being under the influence does not make someone ineligible for benefits. However, when employers can convince state authorities or the courts that a worker’s injury was the result of their chemical intoxication, they can then potentially justify denying that worker benefits. Some workers are so frightened about what could turn up during workplace drug testing that they never report an injury or an incident on the job to their employers.

Those more familiar with workers’ compensation rules may feel more comfortable agreeing to chemical testing, even if they know there’s a chance that they might fail. After all, certain drugs do remain in someone’s bloodstream for many days after they ingest the substance even though the effect of the drug should have long since worn off.

It is possible for workers to fight back and win if a company denies them coverage based solely on a failed drug test after a workplace injury. As such, learning about the rules for workers’ compensation benefits in Arkansas – and seeking legal guidance as needed – may help employees feel more confident about speaking up when they get hurt and claiming the benefits that they deserve.