Each year drug and alcohol abuse costs U.S. companies billions of dollars, which includes turnover rates for employees, unexcused absences, lower productivity, accidents, and increased workers’ compensation claims. According to the National Safety Council, employees who abuse prescription drugs are two to five times more likely to take unexcused absences, be late for work, be injured or violent at work, file workers’ compensation claims, and quit or be fired within one year of employment.
Testing your current and potential employees can help prevent and detect workplace drug abuse. The most common drugs at the root of the substance abuse issue include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and opioids. Employers with a drug testing program in place report:
There are a variety of employment-related drug and alcohol tests used by employers. For more than 30 years, DISA has worked to make the drug testing process easier and more streamlined for customers.
Regardless of your industry or unique requirements, DISA has the tools, and best-in-business practices necessary to help you create a drug-testing program that will work for you and your company. Before making a decision, we encourage you to research the benefits of each type to determine what best matches your company’s needs.
There are several circumstances in which an organization may require a drug test. Following are the most common types of tests:
Pre-Employment testing typically occurs after a conditional offer of employment has been made and is the most common form of drug testing performed. Applicants agree to be tested as a condition of employment and may not be hired if they fail their drug test. Each state has its own laws regarding pre-employment drug testing, so it’s beneficial to know the laws in your respective state. For example, in some states drug tests are subject to personal health information laws, therefore limiting the amount of information that can be relayed to employers.
Random drug testing is performed on an unannounced, unpredictable basis on employees whose identifying information (e.g. social security number or employee number) has been placed in a lottery-like testing-pool and are randomly selected. Usually, the selection is computer generated to ensure that it is indeed random, and that each employee has an equal chance of being selected for testing. Since random drug testing has little to no advanced notice, it is an effective deterrent for employee drug use.
Reasonable suspicion testing is similar to, and is sometimes referred to as “probable cause” or “for-cause” testing. Reasonable suspicion testing is conducted when supervisors have reasonable cause to suspect an employee of drug use. Testing evidence is based on direct observation, either by a supervisor or another employee. This type of testing requires careful, comprehensive supervisor training since it is at the discretion of management. It’s extremely important to have clear and consistent definitions of the types of behavior and signs that justify drug and alcohol testing, and any suspicion should be confirmed by another supervisor or manager.
Post-accident, which is sometimes referred to as “post-incident” drug testing occurs after an employee has been involved in a workplace accident. Examples of possible incidents include fatalities, injuries that require a person to be removed from the scene for medical care, damage to vehicles or property exceeding a specified monetary amount, and citations by the police. Testing can help determine whether drugs and/or alcohol were a factor. Employers who implement post-accident drug testing must establish guidelines to specify how soon following an accident testing must occur. It is recommended that post-accident testing occurs within 12 hours of the incident, since substances remain in a person’s system for various amounts of time. Alcohol tests are time sensitive and should be performed within two hours, not to exceed eight hours due to the short duration of time that alcohol remains in a person's system.
Return-to-Duty testing is a series of scheduled tests for an employee who previously tested positive has undergone the required treatment for substance abuse and is ready to return to the workplace. This type of testing is sometimes also used for employee’s who have been absent for an extended period of time. Under federally-mandated testing guidelines, Return-to-Duty drug tests are performed after one of three incidents: a positive drug test result, the violation of a specific drug rule, or the violation of a specific alcohol rule. An employee must first be evaluated by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and complete any treatment deemed necessary by the SAP prior to taking the Return-to-Duty test.
Periodic testing is scheduled in advance and is typically performed on current employees at consistent time periods throughout the year. Some employers use it on an annual basis, especially if employees are required to undergo an annual physical. Because periodic testing is a scheduled, announced test, prior knowledge of the testing date may allow employees to adjust their substance abuse to pass the test.
Follow-up testing is implemented for employees who have previously tested positive on a drug test or violated a company’s drug and alcohol policy. The employee must follow the recommendations from their SAP and pass the initial Return-to-Duty test in order for the follow-up testing to be implemented as a part of the Return-to-Duty agreement.
Blanket testing is similar to random testing because it is unannounced and not based on individual suspicion; however, unlike random testing everyone at a worksite is tested rather than a randomly selected percentage.
Other types of testing include voluntary, probationary, pre-promotion, and return-after-illness testing.
There are various Drug Testing methods to screen for alcohol and commonly detected drugs. Urine, oral fluid, hair, and alcohol tests are some of the most common workplace drug testing methods available.
Policies should define who is covered; companies should understand when and who to drug test, since different reasons for testing play a role in determining who is tested and how often. Policies should also clearly communicate disciplinary consequences for refusing to test or testing positive. When implementing drug testing in the workplace, it’s important to provide a clear, written policy that is shared with all employees, along with employee education regarding the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse. For more direction, DISA can assist you in creating a prototype policy for your business.
Once the policy is implemented, provide training to supervisors about the warning signs of substance abuse, documentation of performance-related problems, employee assistance programs (EAP), health-insurance coverage for treatment, and how to refer an employee for help. But most importantly, stay informed. DISA can provide substance abuse training in the workplace or supervisor awareness training. For more information, call us at 281-673-2530 or contact us online.
If you decide to start a drug testing program at your company, it’s important to create a detailed policy. To customize your policy, ask the following questions:
Depending on the industry, you may want to customize your policy to best suit your company’s needs. Safety-sensitive industries like transportation, construction, and oil and gas, where there have been incidents directly related to drug and alcohol use, are implementing stricter drug testing policies. Some companies are also requiring “safety-sensitive” employees to report the use of prescription or over-the-counter medications that could impact safety. On January 1, 2018 the Department of Transportation (DOT) publishedfor its drug-testing programs. The revised guideline mandates DOT regulated programs will now be required to test for additional opioids including hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone.
Once you have created the policy, review it to ensure it is current, compliant with relevant state and federal laws, including state marijuana legislation, and considers all parameters and procedures involved.
To keep your workplace running smoothly, contact DISA Global Solutions for your drug and alcohol testing needs at 281-673-2530 or contact us online. For more information regarding a drug-free workplace visit the following suggested websites: