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Should you mandate drug and alcohol testing for injured workers?

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2023 | Procedure

New York’s workers’ compensation laws don’t require drug or alcohol testing on injured workers as part of the claims process – but, as an employer, you probably should.

In fact, not taking advantage of that ability could deprive you of both valuable benefits and an effective defense to certain claims.

Why is mandatory drug and alcohol screening after accidents important?

First, it’s not uncommon for employers to be given a discount by their insurers for instituting mandatory post-accident testing, since that is an additional financial incentive that encourages safe workplaces (and lowers the number of overall claims the insurer has to pay).

Second, even though worker’s compensation is a “no-fault” program, that no-fault system is far from absolute. There are exceptions to the rule that can allow you to deny an injured worker’s claim, and one of them is whenever the accident was solely caused by the employee’s voluntary intoxication or drug use.

However, the burden falls on you to prove that is what happened. Under the law, there’s a presumption that the worker’s injuries are not solely the result of intoxication by drugs or alcohol unless you can provide “substantial evidence to the contrary.”

That can be difficult to do even with a blood or urine test that shows your employee had drugs or alcohol in their system, but it’s virtually impossible without one.

How do you institute mandatory drug and alcohol screenings after injuries?

First, you want to make it clear to your employees what is expected. Include that information in your bulletins to your employees and your updated employee handbook. There should be no surprises.

In addition, you want to craft a detailed accident plan that your management can put into place as soon as possible after an injury happens. This means discussing exactly when post-incident drug testing is to be done (whether it is always to be performed or only in certain situations), when the testing is to be done, what type of testing (blood or urine) will be done and the timeframe in which testing is expected.

When you’re running a business, you have to be on guard. If you suspect that an employee’s workplace injury is invalid, it may be time to talk about your legal options.

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