Q: When an employee is injured on the job, can we drug test them?
A: This is a common question posed by employers and medical review officers or treatment providers following the amendments made in 2017 to the Iowa workers’ compensation statute. Some confusion has arisen as to how the statute impacts drug testing.
The amendments address some of the liability issues when employees sustain injuries while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, the amendments do not authorize blanket drug testing as part of the work comp process, i.e. testing everyone who has a work comp claim. Any drug testing would need to be in relation to a treatment need or a specific employee policy.
If the employer has a drug or alcohol testing policy that is compliant with Iowa Code 730.5, the employee, who has a reportable injury, could be drug tested. The code allows drug testing in a series of circumstances, including if there is a reportable workers’ compensation injury.
However, in the absence of a 730.5 compliant policy, drug testing following a reportable workers’ compensation injury must be due to a medical care need. Employers, physicians, or other providers cannot direct or require drug tests unless done as part of care.
The results of testing as part of care can be used both in the workers’ compensation process and can be used by employers who do not have a 730.5 compliant policy.
So to answer the question, it depends. If you have a 730.5 compliant policy, you can request a drug test. If you do not, you cannot require or direct a test, but the treating provider may request one if needed to provide care.