This is part 1 of a 4 part series on workplace drug testing.
Drug testing is one action an employer can take to determine if employees or job applicants are using drugs. It can identify evidence of recent use of alcohol, prescription drugs and illicit drugs. Currently, drug testing does not test for impairment or whether a person’s behavior is, or was, impacted by drugs. Drug testing works best when implemented based on a clear, written policy that is shared with all employees, along with employee education about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse, supervisor training on the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse, and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide help for employees who may have an alcohol or drug problem.
Why do employers drug test?
Alcohol and drug abuse creates significant safety and health hazards and can result in decreased productivity and poor employee morale. It also can lead to additional costs in the form of health care claims, especially short-term disability claims.
Common reasons employers implement drug testing are to:
- Deter employees from abusing alcohol and drugs
- Prevent hiring individuals who use illegal drugs
- Be able to identify early and appropriately refer employees who have drug and/or alcohol problems
- Provide a safe workplace for employees
- Protect the general public and instill consumer confidence that employees are working safely
- Comply with State laws or Federal regulations
- Benefit from Workers’ Compensation Premium Discount programs
How is drug testing conducted and how accurate is it?
Generally, most private employers have a fair amount of latitude in implementing drug testing as they see fit for their organization, unless they are subject to certain Federal regulations, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) drug-testing rules for employees in safety-sensitive positions. Federal agencies conducting drug testing must follow standardized procedures established by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
While private employers are not required to follow these guidelines, doing so can help them stay on safe legal ground. Court decisions have supported following these guidelines, and as a result, many employers choose to follow them. These Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing (also called SAMHSA’s guidelines) include having a Medical Review Officer (MRO) evaluate tests. They also identify the five substances tested for in Federal drug-testing programs and require the use of drug labs certified by SAMHSA. These five illicit drugs are: Amphetamines (meth, speed, crank, ecstasy), THC (cannabinoids, marijuana, hash), Cocaine (coke, crack), Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine) and Phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust).
The most common method of drug testing is urinalysis. FYI Screening offers an internet-based drug screen system through it’s fully integrated partner, eScreen. eScreen developed eCup which is a patented urine collection device designed to allow for rapid, under-seal screening. A major advantage to the “smart” cup is that it doesn’t require human intervention or interpretation—which means no chance of human error. Our drug screening system uses drug labs certified by SAMHSA and a Medical Review Officer (MRO) to evaluate tests.
Who is allowed access to the results of a drug test?
The result of a drug test may be considered personal health information. Consequently, there may be restrictions on how and whether such information (as well as other information related to an employee’s history of alcohol or drug use) can be shared with others. This is why employees who undergo a drug test generally must sign a release (usually at the time of the test) in order for their employer to receive the results. For more information about issues related to the release of health information, contact DHHS. This agency administers the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which dictates under what circumstances and to whom health information may be released. More information about this issue can be found on Office of Civil Rights HIPAA Web page.
Want to learn more?
FYI Screening is fully integrated with eScreen to provide drug-screening services to employers nationwide. eScreen’s online management system is power-packed with every tool you need to hire and maintain a healthy, drug-free workplace.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor