Employee drug testing has become the norm in some major companies across America. It is a simple solution to protecting the workforce for a drug-free environment.
Some job hunting individuals may wonder if the methods and attitudes are over-zealous, but many companies stand by their policies.
Drug use at work is a problem, and there are different solutions to uncover it. However, not all companies are tackling the issue in the most efficient manner.
Why is drug use in the workplace such a big problem?
Drug use within employees is a significant risk for the health and productivity of the workforce. Users are at risk of incompetence to the point of bad conduct and negligence.
There is also the chance that they may miss work. As a result, there is a clear need for employers to bring in employee drug testing to some degree.
It not only helps to catch those suspected of bad conduct but also discourages habitual drug use. It is important that companies and job hunting employees are aware of the different methods of employee drug tests and their implications.
What methods are in use by major companies to keep on top of employee drug use?
There are many occasions where employers may subject staff to some form of workplace drug test. Each has its pros and cons for dealing with repeat offenders or key suspects.
Each type of test should be carefully carried out by a reputable firm; They will provide options, guidance, and safe procedures. There should also be guidance from a Medical Review Officer. This MRO will receive samples, review positive results and help to explain them. The main types of tests are as follows:
Random drug testing: a test requested at a random opportunity. The idea here is to catch out users as they have no time to prepare. There may be no suspicion involved, but it can weed out users. The threat of random testing may also be a deterrent.
Annual physicals: the yearly physical tests that determine the health and well-being of current employees. These scheduled tests are an ideal way for companies to check for drug use, among other health concerns regularly.
Pre-employment drug testing: the tests given to a recruit after accepting a new role in the company. This test helps to ensure that job hunting applicants aren’t abusers. The scheme offers the chance to terminate an offer on a positive result.
Post accident drug testing: a test given after an accident on the incident in the workplace. There will be times when accidents happen that may be due to drug-related impairment. A post-accident test can determine the probable cause. The main aim here is to protect the safety of the workforce.
Return to duty drug testing: a test given when an employee returns to work following a previous incident. Employees that receive help for drug addiction could face further testing on their return. This provides a clear picture of current habits. Also, an upcoming test may deter them from using again.
Reasonable suspicion drug testing: a test given to those that appear to be under the influence. This test only works if there is a strong belief that their behavior may put others at risk. Positive results could help to protect the workforce. Negative results could lead to tension between employers and employees.
What types of drug tests do companies use in employee screenings?
There are four different types of tests that employers can use to check for signs of drug use. They are the urine test, hair test, saliva test and blood test. The urine test is still the most commonly used, partly because it is such a simple procedure mostly followed by employees. In fact, as many as 82.1% of companies turn to urine testing. 12.9% prefer blood samples and just 1.1% use hair.
This is an interesting statistic as studies now show hair samples to be more reliable. Urine samples can detect drug signatures for around three days, and there is the risk of subjects tampering with the sample. This risk diminishes with the hair sample, which also provides a much longer detection window.
Hair samples are ideal for those that want to determine habitual drug use and patterns. It also works well for job hunting applicants in pre-employment testing. Urine testing can be problematic for scheduled tests and annual physicals.
In addition to this, there are also different types of tests depending on the drugs that companies wish to test for. The best drug test providers are those that provide a full drug panel. The National Security Council once advised that companies looked for 7 compounds.
They were benzodiazepines, opiates, oxycodone, methadone, cocaine, amphetamines, and THC. Today, the rise of legal highs and synthetic chemicals means a need for a wider panel.
Does employee drug screening via these methods help to create a drug-free workplace?
Statistics suggest that as much as 68% of companies will use pre-employment screening on job hunting recruits. 95% of those will not continue with the contract if there is a positive result. With current employees, only 31% will immediately fire an individual for a positive result.
This is attractive to those that are so keen to promote a drug-free workplace and take action. The alternative approach here is to provide warnings, counseling, and education. This idea of education is important because this seems to have a welcome effect on the rate of positive results.
The problems come in creating the best possible program for the company and its employees. It is easy for employers to fall back on the basic policies and testing options, but they may not be adequate.
Some stick with a 5-panel test, ignoring the risk of prescription drugs and synthetic substances. Others need to adapt guidelines to suit the nature of the business and work within union guidelines.
In the end, it seems that the best employee drug testing provisions are the ones that can adapt to new trend and circumstances. Those that can embrace wider panels, drug education and hair sampling may do better than those with the same old 5-panel urine tests.