Drug testing is necessary if employers want to determine whether job applicants or employees are into drug use. These tests can assist employers with information on the use of certain illicit drugs, alcohol, and prescription drugs. At best, drug testing serves it’s primary purposes when performed in alignment with clear and written policies that employees know.
Generally, employers can choose between on-site and off-site drug testing. Indeed many businesses that have on-site drug testing policies do so for good reasons. But how does the practice of on-site drug testing work?
Continue reading to find out.
Why Perform On-site Drug Tests
There are several adverse effects of alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace. Apart from the fact that these possess significant health and safety hazards at work, they can also affect productivity. Plus, employee morale and company culture suffer significantly. In all, companies will record higher health care claims and other financial liabilities like short-term disability claims.
To avoid these, employees carry out on-site drug testing for the following reasons:
- Deter drug and alcohol abuse by employees
- Avoid employing applicants that use illegal drugs
- Early and timely intervention for employees with alcohol or drug issues
- Ensure workplace safety for all employees
- Boost consumer confidence and protect clients
- To operate in compliance with Federal or State laws and regulations
- Profit from programs like the Workers’ Compensation Premium Discount offer
In the section below, we look at some of the main advantages of implementing an on-site testing policy.
Benefits of On-site Drug Testing
- Onsite drug testing consumes less time and reduces employee downtime.
- It is also a more convenient option for testing employees. Testing technicians and necessary items will be available on-site with the possibility of large sessions and short notices.
- Makes random tests more viable. Thus, ensuring little or no bias that deters drug use.
- Employers save money in the form of transportation costs to and from a clinic.
- On-site testing helps reduce or minimize the possibilities of adulteration and ensures better quality control of samples.
- Nullifies the possibilities of any potential liabilities such as automobile accidents when transporting to off-site testing grounds.
Drugs Tested For
According to the SAMHSA;’s guidelines, most drug tests in the workplace detect the following illicit drugs:
- Cocaine (crack, coke)
- THC (hash, cannabinoid, marijuana)
- Amphetamines (ecstasy, meth, crank)
- Phencyclidine (angel dust, PCP)
- Opiates (codeine, heroin, morphine, opium)
How On-site Drug Testing Works
Generally, the implementation of on-site testing is relatively flexible and helps meet the employer or organization’s specific needs. However, there may be some State or Federal regulations that employers will have to comply with.
A good example is the U.S Department of Transporation’s drug-testing rules. Despite this, drug tests at the workplace follow standardized procedures following the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration policies.
Though private employers aren’t obligated to follow the same guidelines, the guidelines assist all organizations in running drug tests under safe, legal conditions. These guidelines are called SAMHSA’s guidelines, and they include specific details for successful and standardized drug testing.
According to SAMHSA’s guidelines, employers need a medical review officer (MRO) to analyze tests. The guidelines also specify the five substances included in Federal drug-testing programs.
The commonest type of on-site drug testing is urinalysis. Here are the usual scenarios involved in carrying out these tests onsite.
Typical On-site Testing Scenarios
- The employee-donor becomes the number priority of the on-site collector or test technician.
- The subject (applicant or employee) provides a valid test sample.
- Testing technician implements measures to prevent sample adulteration or sample replacement. Precaution sometimes includes placing a dye in the toilet or blocking the water supply to the restroom.
- Sample collection occurs in privacy, free from any direct visual observation.
- Test samples are either taken to a certified laboratory for accurate results or tested on-site.
According to SAMHSA’s guidelines, here are procedures test samples go through to ensure utmost validity and accuracy:
Chain of custody
This is a form used to specify how and who handled the test samples. It covers the time of sample collection to its disposal.
The initial screen involves the first test performed by technicians on a given sample. This analysis could return a false positive. Therefore, lab technicians conduct another test.
This is the second test conducted on a sample. It is more accurate and highly reliable.
A split sample occurs when testing technicians divide a sample into two. The first used for the initial test, and the second used for a confirmation test provided the initial test returns positive.
When to Conduct Drug Tests
Employers implementing an on-site drug testing policy can perform tests in many different circumstances. Apart from random tests, here are some of the usual conditions that may elicit a drug test at the workplace:
- Pre-employment as part of the hiring process, with the consent of applicants
- After reasonable suspicion of drug usage
- Post-accident to determine possible cause
- Scheduled and periodic testing
- Return-to-duty for employees
The on-site drug testing offers several benefits both for the employer and employees. It is more flexible in several ways and allows employees to determine the illicit use of several different drugs hassle-free.