Industry Insights

Creating a Drug Free and Safer Workplace

DISA welcomed several well-respected industry speakers to present at the first annual ‘Day with DISA’ drug testing conferencing and networking event. One of those speakers was Richard Clay, Vice President of National Accounts at Psychemedics Corporation. Because Psychemedics is DISA’s preferred hair testing vendor partner, we asked Richard to present some of their real workplace data and breakdown positivity rates for marijuana both pre- and post-MRO review

If you didn’t get the opportunity to attend the Day with DISA conference, or if you would like to review this presentation again, you can download or watch it using the link below.

>> To View Richard’s Full Presentation, Click Here <<


When someone uses drugs, the substance is absorbed into the bloodstream. Because each hair follicle has a blood vessel to feed the hair growth cells, the drugs are carried from the blood into the hair follicle. As a result, a history of drug use can then be detected in the hair follicle. This allows employers to understand which drugs a donor has used, how frequently, and how much. With the opioid epidemic on the rise, and the frequent changes in marijuana laws, it’s pertinent that employers establish a comprehensive testing program that protects their workplace from incidents related to or caused by drug abuse.


Here are a few statistics from the session that emphasize the true impact of drug use in safety-sensitive industries.

  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, drug use in the workplace costs employers approximately $81 billion annually in lost productivity.
  • Today’s marijuana cigarette is 4X as strong as it was in 1995. – Marijuana Fact Sheet: DEA
  • Employees who tested positive for marijuana had 55% more industrial accidents. -2017: National Institute for Drug Abuse

Hair testing has a place, but quite frankly, to have a comprehensive program you have to look at both short term and long term.

Hair grows approximately a half inch per month, and the first inch and a half of hair is used to observe a 90-day window, which represents a donors’ history of their drug usage. Hair samples are collected at the scalp, which can prevent the detection of recent use (5-7 days) since the hair has not had time to grow out. In order to detect both long term, as well as short term drug usage, employers need to combine multiple drug testing methods together, such as both urine and hair samples at the point of collection.

As the leading hair testing pioneer in the oil & gas industry, Psychemedics revealed real workplace data by gauging trends in the drug testing industry and presented their insight on the most effective detection and deterrence strategies. This session helped employers understand the importance of creating a safer working environment through the use of multiple testing methodologies, such as hair, urine, and oral fluids testing.

Richard commented, “Hair testing has a place, but quite frankly, to have a comprehensive program you have to look at both short term and long term.“ Richard discussed in his presentation that in order to eliminate potential gaps in your drug testing program, you should use both hair testing to identify longer term lifestyle use, as well as urine testing to identify recent use. Together you eliminate gaps in coverage and ensure a safer workplace.


Read about other presentations from Day with DISA:


For more than 30 years, DISA has been a provider of workplace safety and compliance services. DISA helps companies make more informed staffing decisions by offering a broad array of industry-leading methodologies to make employee screening faster and more accurate. For more information about DISA call 1-800-752-6432 or email sales@disa.com.