TAKEAWAY: There are several critical steps that need to be taken a maximum of 32 hours after an incident, and as an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure those expectations are met within the permissible timeline.
- Essential steps employers need to take after a workplace injury occurs
- Considerations for conducting drug testing as part of your company’s post-incident procedures
- Types of post-incident drug testing
- Timeframes for post-incident testing
- Other general considerations after a workplace injury
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The day or so after a workplace injury occurs is a crucial period for employers. All workplaces need to have a clearly defined accident and emergency plan in place and be ready to implement should an injury occur. An emergency plan should outline the step-by-step process to follow immediately after different accident and injury scenarios. Post-incident drug testing is one important aspect of an emergency plan to consider.
Employers need to understand:
- When post-incident drug testing is warranted
- What types of post-incident drug tests can be conducted
- The timeframes that these need to be completed in and where this fits in with other post-incident procedures
The following guidelines will help employers to navigate the sensitive time period following a workplace injury. This enables them to gain an understanding of how drug testing and alcohol testing fits into their overall post-incident procedures.
Essential steps employers need to take after a workplace injury occurs
A workplace emergency plan should include detailed information about what to do, who to contact, and the timeframes for taking action when a workplace accident or incident occurs. The following steps should be taken after a workplace injury occurs
- Provide the necessary first aid care for the injured person. Call 911 if the injury is serious.
- Secure the scene in case an accident investigation is required.
- Make sure other employees are safe and away from the scene of the injury.
- Carry out post-incident drug or alcohol testing as soon as possible if it is determined to be appropriate.
- For all employers, record the incident and injury details, even if it does not seem serious initially, because that information may be required later.
- Next, follow the reporting requirements for your particular jurisdiction and submit your report of injury. For example, in Alberta, employers are required to submit the employer report of injury form within 72 hours of the incident taking place. In Saskatchewan, that window is slightly larger, with employers required to report within 5 days.
- Debrief with your team to determine if and how the incident and subsequent injury could have been avoided and make any required changes to workplace environment or processes.
- Review and amend emergency plan and procedures as needed.
- Designate employee leave as appropriate and implement a return-to-work program for the injured worker.
These steps should be outlined in further detail in a company’s workplace emergency plan. As with any emergency situation, clarity is key — having clear expectations and an outline of steps for your team to follow will ensure everything is handled correctly.
Considerations for conducting drug testing as part of your company’s post-incident procedures
Companies may choose to carry out workplace drug testing in various situations. Just as employers might conduct pre-employment drug testing or random testing, they can also consider the implementation of post-incident drug testing.
The decision to conduct post-incident drug testing should be based on a company’s commitment to promoting workplace safety and health. Post-incident drug testing can be used to determine whether drug or alcohol use is a contributing factor to workplace accidents and injuries.
Guidelines for post-incident drug testing should be outlined in the company’s workplace drug and alcohol policy. This should include a set of criteria that determines whether testing should be carried out or not. A Designated Employer Representative decides whether the incident meets those criteria, and therefore, whether to conduct testing.
Post-incident drug testing should only be carried out in instances where there is reasonable suspicion that the employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident, and the employee’s acts or omissions may have been a contributing factor in the incident. If those two criteria are met, an employer is able to carry out the test. Also, note that the employee(s) should be escorted to the collection facility by a supervisor.
Post-incident drug testing should not be limited to testing only the injured person. All employees who could have contributed to the accident should be tested.
Do you know how to navigate reasonable suspicion in your workplace?
Knowing how to identify the signs and symptoms of impairment in the workplace can help you prevent serious incidents.
SureHire offers a Reasonable Suspicion Training course for supervisors and employees so you can learn the types of drug testing, how to document reasonable suspicion, and more. Education is a key step in building safe, healthy, and productive workplaces.
Types of post-incident drug testing
There are several types of drug tests that an employer may consider using for a workplace drug testing program. These include urine testing, oral fluid testing, and hair follicle testing. Five types of illicit drugs are most commonly tested for, although employers can opt to test for additional substances.
For drug testing, the preferred post-incident testing option is oral fluid testing. This is due to its short window of detection, and the reduced likelihood of an adulterated sample. Oral fluid testing can identify very recent drug use, which will have a greater possibility of being linked to the workplace incident. For situations where alcohol impairment is suspected, a breath alcohol test is the most common post-incident testing choice.
Timeframes for post-incident testing
If impairment is suspected, drug and alcohol testing should be carried out as soon as possible following a workplace injury. After initial safety-related emergency procedures are carried out, drug testing can be conducted if it is deemed appropriate.
Both drug and alcohol testing should be conducted within two hours if possible. If the timelines are stretched for some reason, you must perform the alcohol test within eight hours and the drug test within 32 hours following the incident, as per the Canadian Model for Providing a Safe Workplace. A failure to complete the test within those time frames may lead to the relevance of the results being diminished or questioned.
SureHire recognizes that every minute is critical in that post-incident timeframe, which is why they offer 24/7/365 emergency post-incident testing. The average appointment time for after-hours emergency testing is approximately one to two hours from the time of the initial call, so as an employer, you are able to keep to the required timelines and ensure the incident is handled properly.
Other general considerations after a workplace injury
After a workplace accident, the injured employee can file a claim with worker’s compensation insurance to cover medical expenses. Employers need to make sure they are properly insured to avoid financial liability for covering these costs.
Other considerations to help ensure the post-incident process runs smoothly include:
- Training and education for employees on workplace health and safety, first aid, and emergency procedures
- Any industry-specific or location-specific legal requirements
- A clearly defined workplace drug and alcohol policy
- Established and documented workplace drug testing policies and procedures, including supporting organizations and contacts
As a leading provider of occupational health testing services in North America, SureHire offers comprehensive drug testing solutions for workplaces. When a workplace accident cannot be explained through mechanical failure, Sure Hire can take care of your post-incident testing requirements.
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