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HUMAN RESOURCES

Alternatives to Drug Testing

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Drug testing is routinely criticized as being invasive, expensive, and inaccurate. Moreover, it might notcatch other, very real, problems. "The majority of accidents are caused by stress and fatigue, not substance abuse," maintains Tammie Fry, human-resourcesdirector at Purgatory Resort, a ski and summer resort, in Durango, Colo. Fry says that although her industry is moving toward it, Purgatory has decided notto do random drug testing, opting instead for computer-based performance testing.

Employees in such safety-sensitive jobs as ski-lift operation and child care get trained in a kind of PC-based video game, during which they set their ownperformance "standard." Each day, some 250 of the company's 700 employees take the test before they clock in. The test takes less than a minute, withemployees given eight chances to meet their baseline scores. If they miss, they're either assigned different responsibilities or sent home.

Fry says employees "overwhelmingly support the idea over random drug testing." Computer-based performance testing, she says, is also cheaper: the systemPurgatory uses costs about $130 per employee for the first year, $64 for each of the next two years, and $27.50 annually after that.

Last updated: Jan 1, 1995




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