Employee drug testing is vital to an efficient workplace. An employer may drug test to prevent employees from using, prevent hiring individuals who use, and protect the general public. By complying with state/federal laws in regular drug testing of a workplace environment we secure peace in everyday operations.
Safety-sensitive positions involve more rules and regulations as to how drug tests are conducted vs private employers. DOT (Department of Transportation) drug-testing rules apply to employees in safety-sensitive positions; Federal agencies follow procedures set by SAMHSA. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). While private employers are not required to implement drug testing, for both practical and legal reasons, many do.
Employee Drug Testing Procedure
In the most common method used, urinalysis, employees provide urine samples to be tested at a DOT certified laboratory. Tests can be done in a workplace, a doctor’s office, or any specific site chosen by the employer. To avoid tampering or “cheating” the drug test while still allowing privacy, precautions are taken. Usually blue dye may be placed in the toilet and the water supply will be turned off. The accuracy of these drug tests is high and tests for the 5 substances tested for in Federal drug-testing programs.
Procedures required by SAMHSA guidelines to keep the integrity of the testing process involves the following. A chain-of-custody form is used to document the where’s and when’s of the sample from collection to disposal. The initial screen is the first analysis done on the sample, followed by a confirmation test to validate the accuracy of the first. Confirmation tests rule out the possibility of a false positives, or errors displaying an untrue test result. A split sample is created when the sample is spit into two. One of the separated samples is used for the initial screen and the other for the confirmation. When the screen and confirmation test are both positive, results are then passed to the MRO (medical review officer). It is then their job to confirm with certainty that the results are valid and not a result of outlying circumstance.
Drug tests can be done during pre-employment, on grounds of reasonable suspicion, post-accident, or randomly. Tests are also conducted periodically or after an employee tests positive for illicit substances in return-to-duty testing. On top of urine testing, there is also breath, blood, hair, saliva and sweat testing. Generally speaking, hair follicle testing can test the furthest time-wise. Evidence of current impairment is tested for more commonly using urine tests and saliva tests. SAMHSA’s guidelines go by 5-panel drug tests, which test for amphetamines, THC, cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine (PCP), and occasionally alcohol. Private employers can go beyond 5-panel testing, and test for substances including barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and methaqualone (8-panel tests). A 10-panel test would then include the 8-panel test and methadone and propoxyphene. Testing is also possible for hallucinogens, inhalants, steroids, hydrocodone, and MDMA. Depending on the drug, the detection window of when a test would show positive may vary. The dosage and frequency of usage of a drug can directly affect the length of time it will remain in a person’s system.
Employee Rights for Workplace Drug Testing
As far as the miscellaneous details go, there are a few more things important to keep in mind. An employer will typically pay for a drug test, and time spent in the drug testing process counts towards compensable time. Employers are (for the most part) well within their rights to enforce drug tests, although there are small nuances state by state. It is important to check into the guidelines and regulations per your state before enforcing regulations. It is still possible for an employer to violate federal or state statues in place to protect employee rights. Without a doubt, a workplace with comprehensive drug testing and safety regulations runs the best. By educating and encouraging a team effort, communities become safer and healthier, one step at a time.
If you’re looking for a Drug Testing Center near your workplace to have your Employees Drug Tested at then reach out to LabTestingSolutions.com or call 1-866-777-8667 for details on how we can help. We have a network of labs nationwide.