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The health of the economy depends, in part, on the safety of the construction industry, which is affected by such things as whether:

  • construction workers are free from danger and are not a danger to themselves;
  • they get the help they need, which means construction executives must improve how they test workers for drugs and alcohol; and
  • testing kits are accurate.

It is not enough to follow the letter of the law when drug testing, especially when the law itself is a test of whether a construction company can ensure a reliable means of gathering specimen kits and samples.

Testing in itself is a test of the collectors - the people who do the testing, catalog the samples, maintain chain of custody and verify the results. If the collectors are not properly trained in collection and testing, the workers being tested can cheat the system and themselves by further ruining their health and weakening their bodies.

Alcoholism claims 79,000 lives every year, while the United States spends $16 billion on medical care for alcohol-related complications. The numbers for opioids are even worse, since 4.3 million Americans engage in nonmedical use of this drug each month. The total cost, based on a study published by the American Bar Association, is $400 billion per year.

Addiction within the construction industry is rampant. The issue is no longer if addiction will cause death and disaster, but when. The construction industry must apply the scientific method to the drug testing and collection.

It is one thing for a scientist to review data about drug testing and collection. It is another thing for scientists, construction executives and lawyers to work together—so workers can trust the results and the collectors.

According to Wayne R. Cohen, professor at The George Washington University School of Law, lawyers and construction executives should define the type of training that governs the collection of drug tests. “Training construction executives to think like lawyers, or to at least think about the legal implications of a course of action, is a smart investment. It can influence the use of power by inspiring the powerful to exert their influence to enhance safety and strengthen quality control standards. It is an idea that both parties should consider.”

Clarity about a law is an inducement for one group to enforce it and all groups to follow it; and what is inexcusable, morally, is often indefensible, legally. Construction executives generally want to learn as much as they can as soon as they can, so they can apply their knowledge to benefit themselves and reward their workers. The industry’s bottom line is simple: to flourish without flouting the law or running afoul of society.

If training is what is needed to accomplish this goal, then embrace it. If a seminar can accelerate the ability to achieve this goal, endorse it. If a program can advance this goal, then enact it.


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