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Why do employers drug test?

Alcohol and drug abuse creates significant safety and health hazards which results in decreased productivity and poor employee morale.  Additional costs may include health care claims

Drug Tests Information

What do they test for?

Standard 5-panel

1. THC (cannabinoids, marijuana, hash)

2. Cocaine (cocaine, crack benzoylecognine)

3. Amphetamines (amphetamines, methamphetamines, speed) - does not include MDMA/MDA/ MDE

4. Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine)

5. Phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust)

Expanded Tests

1. Bartiturates (phenobarbital, secobarbitol, butalbital, downers)

2. Hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin)

3. Methaqualone (Quaaludes)

4. Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Librium, Serax, Rohypnol)

5. Methadone (often used to treat heroin addiction)

6. Propoxyphene (Darvon compounds)

7. Ethanol (Alcohol)

8. MDMA (Ecstasy)

What types of drug tests do we do?

  • Urine Tests - Results of a urine test shows the presence or absence of drug metabolites in person's urine.  Metabolites are drug residues that remain in the body for some time after the effects of drug have worn off.  A urine test will detect and measure the use of a particular drug within the previous few days.
  • Saliva Tests - Saliva, or oral fluids collected from the mouth also can be used to detect traces of drugs.  Oral fluid testing is conducted by taking a swab of the inner cheek of an individual, making it harder to adulterate or substitute.  Keep in mind that drugs do not remain in oral fluids as long as urine.
  • Hair Tests - Analysis of hair can give a more complete drug-use history going back as far as 90 days.  Hair testing does not provide evidence of current impairment, but rather only past use of a specific drug. Hair specimens are cut directly from the individual by a trained collector.

Common Reasons for drug testing

  • Deter employees from using alcohol and drugs​.
  • Prevent hiring individuals that use illegal drugs.
  • Be able to identify early and appropriately refer employees who have drug and/or alcohol problems.
  • Provide a safe workplace environment for employees.
  • Comply with State laws or Federal regulations.

When are drug tests conducted?

Pre-employment:  Employers may use drug tests as a condition of hiring an individual after an initial offer of employment has been made.  Applicants must agree to the test and are aware that if a result other than negative is returned that they will not be hired.

Reasonable suspicion:  Reasonable suspicion testing is similar to, and often referred to as "probable-cause" or "for-cause" testing.  A supervisor will document any observable signs and symptoms of an employee that leads to the suspicion of drug use in a drug-free workplace.  It is extremely important to have clear, consistent definitions of what behavior justifies drug and alcohol testing of an employee.  This type of testing is at the discretion of management and requires careful, comprehensive supervisor training.

Post-accident: Testing following an accident can help determine whether or not drugs and/or alcohol was a contributing factor.  Objective criteria should be established that will trigger a post-accident test and how and by whom they will be administered. Examples of criteria used include:  fatalities, injuries that require immediate medical care, vehicle or property damage above a specified monetary value, or citations from an officer.  Employers need to keep in mind that although a post-accident drug test renders a positive result, the test cannot prove that drug use caused the accident to occur.  Substances can remain in an individual's system for various amounts of time, and is recommended that post-accident tests are conducted within 12 hours of an incident.

Random:  Random drug tests are unannounced and the employees to be tested are unpredictable.  Employees identifying information such as employee id numbers or social security numbers are thrown in a pool and selected at random for testing.  Random testing ensures that all employees have an equal chance of being tested, regardless of recent drug testing. 

Return-to-duty:  Return-to-duty testing is a one-time, announced test that is administered to an employee that has previously tested positive.  Once the employee has completed the required treatment for substance abuse and is ready to return to work the employer may have the employee tested to ensure the employee has not abused any illegal drugs.  Some employers may use this type of testing if an employee has been absent from work for an extended period of time.

Periodic:  An employer may have annual drug screenings of their employees.  Periodic tests are usually scheduled in advance and uniformly administered.