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 A large company was interested to know how AlertMeter® compared to their drug testing program in terms of value, cost, and the return on the investment in each. Although every company is different, we wanted to share what this one learned.

Time and cost

At one of the company's worksites, drug testing 400 employees is not an easy process. Testing facilities are at least an hour's drive away, depending on traffic and the time of day. On testing days, groups of employees are bused to the facility, each employee goes through the drug screen process, then they file back onto the bus and fight traffic again for one to two hours back to the worksite. This routine happens at least twice for each of the 400 employees. That's a minimum of 800 tests and a whole lot of bus rides. When all costs attributed to it were added up, the company found an annual expense totaling a remarkable $500,000.

The company looked at what they received for this significant investment, which also includes the pauses to production required to make time for the drug tests and associated travel. For all their trouble, the company receives trailing indicators of workers' status. Essentially, a trailing indicator is historical information, an indication of past conditions. Drug test results typically take time to process, and those results show whether an employee had ingested one or more of a selection of potential intoxicants within the indeterminately recent past. They don't provide any indication of fitness for work on a daily basis nor an indication of future conditions or events. Plus, of course, drug testing has a narrow scope of detection: drugs.


But this company, like more and more companies, is wise to the fact that cognitive impairment can—and more often does—arise from things other than illegal drugs. Cognitive impairment can come from things like shift work fatigue, sleep issues, dehydration, illness, medications, and even emotional distress or preoccupation.

AlertMeter® can detect cognitive impairment from a variety of sources in real time, and it is not invasive. Unlike drug testing, AlertMeter®'s use is managed and owned by the company itself, not a blood lab. The administrative tools have added operational benefits, too, like roster attendance reporting and increased visibility on the overall workforce's fitness for duty, which becomes less and less achievable as the size of the workforce increases.


The company spends $500,000 annually to regularly drug test 400 employees at one worksite, and they receive little in return with which they can improve their daily safety performance. AlertMeter®, on the other hand, provides much that can affect daily safety performance. But how does it compare in terms of cost for this company?

The company explored a 500-employee subscription to AlertMeter®, to account for variations in the workforce population. The difference in cost? More than 80% less compared to their total expenses for drug testing 400 workers.

Given the benefits that other AlertMeter® customers have seen—like big reductions in recordable incidents, reductions in turnover, reductions in workers' comp claims, and improvements to productivity—the company understood that the returns on their investment in AlertMeter® would be not only more visible but also more numerous and more able to influence safety performance daily, as opposed to what their extant drug testing program could provide.

Alertness testing with AlertMeter® is not a substitute for drug testing because its scope and application are much wider and more general.

Alertness testing focuses on identifying impaired employees before they create a safety risk in the workplace. However, using AlertMeter® in conjunction with a drug testing policy can positively influence safety performance and reduce costs, because drug tests can be given more selectively or under certain circumstances, like reasonable suspicion, rather than at random or scheduled intervals.

What kinds of returns might your company see with AlertMeter®? Find out with a click:

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