CM Guides for Handling Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing

Originally published by the following source: SBC MagazineSeptember 1, 2020
by Laura Soderlund


Reasonable suspicion procedures document

Earlier this year, we published the article “eBook: How to Create a Safer, Drug-Free Workplace” that explained some simple steps to follow in creating a safer work environment. One of the steps is training supervisors and workers on identifying warning signs of employees who may be under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. This article expands on this topic and provides an outline that can be used to help determine if an employee could be under the influence and drug testing may be necessary.

The legal office of Pagel, Davis & Hill defines reasonable suspicion testing, and what procedural steps should be taken when detecting signs of impairment, as follows:

Reasonable suspicion testing is a specific, personal observation by a manager or other company official trained to detect the signs and symptoms of drug abuse or alcohol misuse.  One or more of the following findings must be present to perform reasonable suspicion testing:

  1. Articulable observations concerning the appearance, behavior, speech, or body odors of the individual.
  2. Violation of a safety rule or other unsafe work incident that leads the manager to believe that drug/alcohol use may be a factor.
  3. Other physical, circumstantial, or contemporaneous indicators of drug or alcohol use. 

Pagel, Davis & Hill has drafted a template procedural document that should be completed by at least two managers at the time a determination is being made for testing. This form should then be returned to the Supervisor responsible for managing your drug and alcohol policy. Another document they have created is a checklist designed to serve as a guide for management to use to determine reasonable suspicion that an employee is unfit for duty. This checklist helps management observe the employee and check for indicators ranging from appearance to behaviors. Examples from the checklist include bloodshot or watery eyes, slurred speech, and stumbling while walking so management can track those indicators within the document to show possible impairment.

Reasonable suspicion checklist

SBCA members can click here to download the free documents (requires an SBCA-member login). The reasonable suspicion procedures document and checklist can be modified with your company logo and information before being implemented within your organization.

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