WorkPlace Drug Testing

Whether you've been just hired for a new job or a long-term employee at your current work-place, you can be a participant in your workplace drug testing. By doing random drug testing employers can ensure that their employees aren’t coming to work under the influence and po-tentially putting others, and the company by extension, at risk. Here’s what you’ll want to know about workplace drug testings specifically.

How long can drugs be detected in one’s system?

Every drug is a little different, as far how long it will show up on a drug screen after it’s been consumed. Some of them have really short window timeframes, such as LSD (8 hours), and some of them could be especially long, such as chronic use of marijuana (up to several weeks). Some of them also depend on how much you have within that time. For instance, every ounce of alcohol that you consume will last up to 1.5 hours. Other timings include:

  • Amphetamines – 48 hours
  • Barbiturates – 2-10 days
  • Benzodiazepines – 2-3 weeks
  • Cocaine – 2-10 days
  • Heroin Metabolite – less than 1 day
  • Morphine – 2-3 days
  • Methamphetamine – 2-3 days
  • Methadone – 2-3 days
  • Phencyclidine (PCP) – 1 week

Since you can never know for sure when your employer might random drug test you, it means that those who enjoy long lasting drugs, such as methadone or PCP put themselves at risk of it showing up positive on a drug test panel.

Even if you just have “ a little bit”, the test doesn’t differentiate the quantity consumers, just that you did consume it and therefore failing your employment drug test.

How is drug testing conducted and how accurate is it?

Technically, employers can go about drug testing however they want. Employers who have to be in compliance with federal regulations must use the US Department of Transporta-tion (DOT) System, which is carefully controlled and monitored.

Though employers have the choice of going about doing it however they want, many choose to stick to the DOT testing methods because they have very strict, forensic and legali-ties in place that make it easy for them to use the information if need be.

The sample itself (especially in the case of a standard urine sample) can be done either at the workplace and submitted, or it can be done in a lab that would be responsible for han-dling the test itself. The testing accuracy depends on four different segments of the testing process:

  • Chain of custody: Collection methods, preservation, packing, transport , storage and listing of inventories are all part of the procedure used to create the chain of custody.
  • The initial screening: This is the first step of the test itself and it is not often done on its own because it can sometimes give off a false positive. Because the results are so important for accuracy, a second test is often ordered as a secondary source of data.
  • A confirmation test: This would the secondary source of data mentioned and it is a highly accurate testing that will rule out the possibility of false positives.  If a test result were to be positive and marked as such on someone’s file, both the initial screening and confirmation test would have to match.
  • A split sample: In this case, the sample would be split into two sources. If the first sample comes up as positive, the second half of the original sample is then sent to another independent lab for a confirmation  In the case of DOT regulations, all samples are split samples.

What are the different methods of drug testing?

There are 6 different types of drug testing possible. By far, urine is the most popular for detecting as many illegal drugs as possible. In contrast, breath tests are the most common and preferred for detecting alcohol.

Urine: This is a test that focuses on metabolized drugs. In this case, the drug would be in the system after the effects of the drug itself wore off. Urine is used because it can imply whether someone was using illegal drugs even days later.

Breath: This is a more “heat of the moment” test which is why it is used for alcohol use almost exclu-sively. Since alcohol itself so quickly passes through our systems breath tests give the most ac-curate reading.

Blood: This is another “heat of the moment” test that measures current levels of drugs and al-cohol as well as their impairment. However this is often used as a last resort because our sys-tems digest and metabolize it into urine quickly.

Hair: This is a unique testing method because it will note drug use as far back as 90 days. While it doesn’t work for judging impairment, it can show chronic use of drugs and establish a pattern. It’s also not as invasive.

Saliva: This are much easier to collect as far as samples go and they can be better at detecting drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and more. However, they must be done very quickly after consumption.

Sweat: Used for those individuals on parole, this done through a patch hat is worn for a varying amount of time to measure your body’s output of drugs or alcohol in sweat.

What drugs do the tests check for?

You can get a 5-panel test and a 10-panel test, depending on what your employer wants to catch. They are as follows:

A 5-panel test: Amphetamines,THC, Cocaine, Opiates, and PCP. This will also test for al-cohol separately.

A 10-panel test: Amphetamines,THC, Cocaine, Opiates, PCP, Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines,Methaqualone, Methadone, Propoxyphene, and alcohol.

Other specific drugs can also be tested for, especially if someone has a past history of abusing them.

Workplaces have a legal and ethical responsibility to conduct some sort of drug testing for new hires and current employees. The actual test, and the panel they choose, is most often up to them. Lab Testing Solutions partners with numerous Businesses to provide Employment Drug