Important Questions about Drug Testing Answered

Drug testing has become an essential requirement in workplaces, as they help build safe and productive businesses. Today, many safety-sensitive roles under Federal, state, and private organizations have mandated drug and alcohol testing. In recent years, many private organizations have adopted it to curb increasing cases of drug and alcohol abuse at their workplaces. Although this trend has picked up in recent years, there are several myths in workplaces that misguide the employees and employers on certain levels. This post aims to debunk those myths by answering some important questions regarding drug testing.

Common Questions Asked About Drug Testing
There are two stages of drug tests performed under The Drug-Free Workplace Policy. Stage 1 is drug screening and stage 2 is the confirmatory test. There are confusions surrounding both the stages of drug testing. Let us discuss the common questions asked about drug testing.

  1. Why Drug Tests are Essential at Workplace?
    According to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCADD) reports, nearly 70% of major or occasional drug users are employed in various positions across the country. According to the National Drug-free Workplace Alliance (NDWA), 74% of illegal drug consumers are employed and 40% of industrial fatalities occur due to drug consumption. It poses an overall impact on workplace safety, productivity, work ethics, etc leading to the loss of billions of dollars for several American organizations. Thus, drug tests are considered essential to prevent safety and productivity-related concerns at workplaces.
  2. For What Reasons the Drug Tests Can Be Performed at Workplaces? At the workplace, drug tests can be done for the following reasons.
    1. Pre-employment Drug Testing
    2. Probation Drug Testing
    3. Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing
    4. Post-Accident Drug Testing
    5. Court Ordered Drug Testing
  3. What Are the Different Specimens Used for Drug Testing?The following are a few popular drug tests performed at workplaces. They are named after the specimen collected for drug testing.
    1. Urine Testing: This is the most recommended type of drug testing. The presence of illegal and prescribed drugs can be detected for up to 30 days. The alcohol can be detected up to 3-5 days, amphetamines up to 1-3 days, and cannabis up to 30 days. The detection depends on different factors like hydration, the metabolic activity of the body, and types of drugs consumed.
    2. Saliva Testing: This is the type of test, where the oral fluid or saliva is tested for the presence of a consumed drug. Saliva drug testing has one of the shortest detection window of 72 hours. When compared to urine drug testing, saliva drug testing is hard to cheat because the specimen is collected in the presence of the certified administrator.
    3. Hair Follicle Drug Testing: The drug and its metabolites get embedded in hair follicles and the hair grows with drug traces in it. Typically, samples for drug testing are collected from the scalp. The detection window for drug testing is 90 days. This testing is more appropriate for detecting drug use over months.
    4. Fingernail and Toenail Drug Testing: Fingernails and toenails are used as a specimen in this type of testing. Like hair follicles, the drug metabolites get embedded in fibers of keratin and are detectable for up to 6 months. This type of testing is most appropriate for checking the person’s drug history over the months.
  4. What is DOT Drug Testing?DOT drug testing is the drug test performed for the Department of Transportation. It is essential to conduct DOT testing considering the safety-sensitive operations involved in the Department of Transportation.
  5. Does Current Medication Impact Drug Test in Any Manner?Yes, many medications may impact the drug testing results. Nowadays, many illegal drugs are also used for treating serious diseases. Sometimes, the medicines react with the chemical components used for drug testing, thereby causing false-positive results. In such as the drug test reports are sent to the Medical Review Officer (MRO) who examines the report carefully to analyze if medication has started recently or the person has been taking it for a long time, and so on. The MRO may get in touch with the candidate to discuss factors such as the type of drug prescribed, its effects, and may even request any prescription or any pharmacy information to validate the test results. If the presence of any additional drugs than prescribed are found, then they submit the report to the employer accordingly who can take action according to the established Drug-free Workplace Policies. If they are satisfied with the information shared by the candidate then the test results may be nullified.
  6. Is It Essential to Inform Employees About Drug Testing Policies At the Time of Joining? Is Their Approval Needed? Yes, it is essential to have a written drug testing policies. The employees must be informed of the same at the time of onboarding. It is important that human resources employees inform the candidate prior to joining about the policy and also seek their signature on the document. In case, the employer adopts this policy later on then he must take appropriate steps to keep the employees informed about the same. This helps the employer to legally defend themselves in cases where liabilities may be questioned.
  7. Is the Employer Supposed to Maintain Privacy During Testing and Results Declaration?Yes, the employer is supposed to maintain privacy because many employees may not like an intrusion into their privacy. It is commonly observed that employees feel embarrassed while submitting their specimens in presence of others. This may even inspire them to avoid the testing under some or other pretext. The drug testing may be conducted on-site or off-site depending on the situation. Also, the drug test reports are not shared with everyone except the intended employee. However, in case of any judicial proceeding, the drug test reports may be shared with the authorities as required.
  8. Is it Possible to Falsify the Drug Test?Yes, there are several ways of falsifying a drug test, especially the urine drug test. Replacing urine sample with someone else’s sample, diluting with water, adding foreign elements such as soap, vinegar, etc, and providing temperature out of range sample” are some ways of falsifying a urine drug test.
  9. Does Legalization Affect Drug Testing Policy at Office? If Yes, How?Yes, the drug tests performed under the Drug-free Workplace Policy are regulated by FCRA, therefore legalization can affect drug testing policy.

Now that all the common questions about drug testing at the workplace are answered, it is important to partner with the trusted drug testing services for effective results. MedWay OHS provides a comprehensive range of drug and alcohol testing services in the US. Being a third-party administrator (TPA), we have helped several clients to build drug-free and productive workplaces over the years.

Medway OHS