Post-Accident Testing and State Laws

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All employees should be subject to Post-Accident testing when an accident occurs that meets the criteria that the employer outlines for such testing.

Note: This article is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. The reader retains full responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable laws relative to drug testing. 


Post-Accident testing occurs after an accident has taken place while the employee is at work.  This typically takes place during work time, while on the employer’s errand, or on company property. The criteria that will trigger Post-Accident testing must be established and communicated to all employees. It is important that employees are aware and educated as to what constitutes a Post-Accident test as many employers will stipulate that any employee who fails to report a work-related accident is in violation of their policy and subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Examples of criteria used by employers may include, but are not limited to, the following: 

1.    A fatality 
2.    An injury that requires medical attention away from the scene of the accident 
3.    An injury that results in lost work time 
4.    Damage to company property 
5.    Damage to company vehicles owned or leased by the company or being used for company purposes 

In addition, under certain state laws employees testing positive may be ineligible for workers’ compensation and/or unemployment benefits. Also, some insurance companies may apply a discount on the workers’ compensation premiums for conducting testing. 


Who Must Submit to Post-Accident Testing? 
All employees should be subject to Post-Accident testing when an accident occurs that meets the criteria that the employer outlines for such testing. As a general rule, the individuals who caused or contributed to the accident must proceed to the testing site as soon as possible. In addition, testing should take place for those individuals injured as part of the accident whether they were a contributing factor to the accident or not. The criteria may differ based upon the state and/or federal laws surrounding Post-Accident testing. The employer’s Drug Free Workplace Policy should be used as a reference to assist in determining when testing should take place. 


Post-Accident Testing Restrictions 
Most municipalities permit employers to conduct Post-Accident testing. A few states impose limitations on when Post-Accident testing can occur or have their own specific definition of what constitutes a Post-Accident test that must be followed to comply with the state’s drug testing laws. For instance, some states permit post-accident testing only if the employer has reasonable suspicion to believe that the employee was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at the time of the accident.  Additionally, a number of states define the criteria for testing. An example of this is the state of Iowa.  In Iowa, the state’s mandatory statute definition of accident includes those involving injuries that result in claims being filed under Iowa Code Chapter 88 and property damage of $1,000 or more, and falls under Reasonable Cause testing. Another example is the state of Montana, whose definition of an accident is outlined to require an employee to be tested only if the employer has reason to believe that the employee’s act or failure to act is a direct or proximate cause of a work-related accident in which the employee has caused death, personal injury, or property damage in excess of $1,500. 

Particular states may require Post-Accident testing if the employer wishes to comply with the state’s voluntary law for benefits to reduce or deny workers’ compensation and/or unemployment claims, or to receive a reduced workers’ compensation premium. One example would include Florida, which requires that testing under reasonable suspicion be the result of objective and articulable facts indicative of drug abuse while at work. In Georgia, testing is required when an employee causes or contributes to an on-the-job-accident resulting in a loss of work time. Outside of the voluntary laws for these states, no requirements apply to Post-Accident testing. 


Statistics indicate that drug abusers are more likely to be involved in job site accidents and even more likely to file workers’ compensation claims. Post-Accident testing can have a powerful impact on an employer’s testing program that should be reviewed and carefully considered to establish an effective and cost-efficient program.  


Contact NMS Management Services for more info: 800.269.0502


This information is provided for educational purposes only. Reader retains full responsibility for the use of the information contained herein. 

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