July 17, 2024

Key things you have to know before doing employee drug testing

Drug testing can seem quite intimidating, though it’s not supposed to be. But how you prepare for drug testing for your employees can determine how anxious they can be. Ideally, you should reassure your employees that no one is accusing them of abusing or using alcohol or drugs. Remember that employee drug testing is designed to discourage drug or alcohol use so that you can have a drug free workplace

People who work in safety-sensitive positions as defined by the federal government need to go through drug testing after an accident, before employment, and at random times during the year. Depending on the government entity that regulates your company and the employee pool, you can randomly test your employees at least once a year or even several times a year. This post explains the key things you have to know before doing employee drug testing.

Implementing employee drug testing

A business that is regulated by the state or federal government has no options but to do drug testing. But if no government entity regulates your business, then you choose not to have a drug-free policy. You should note that it’s still necessary to have a drug-free policy for your company for legal purposes. 

Most businesses ask applicants to have a drug test, though many may not ask them until they offer a position. Employment can usually depend on the results of this drug test. You need to notify the applicants in advance if the hiring process includes pre-employment drug testing.  

There is also random drug testing that needs all staff members to have the same chance of being selected to take a drug test. Many businesses utilize a computer program that can randomly choose names for drug testing, so this makes it fair for everyone. All employees can be entered into the pool regardless of whether they were recently chosen for a random drug test. 

Employees who are involved in a work-related accident can be requested to do a post-accident drug test. Therefore, you must assure your staff member that no one is accusing them of alcohol or drug use. An employee can get worker’s compensation if a drug test rules out alcohol or drug use. 

Reasonable suspicion is another ground for doing drug tests. Ideally, if you suspect alcohol or drug impairment, you can decide to drive the potential staff member to a testing clinic, ask for a mobile testing unit, or arrange for a ride. Do not allow the staff member to drive themselves to the testing clinic. Also, you need to document your observations properly and follow your policy before you decide to ask the staff member to go for a drug test.

And, if the staff member tests positive for alcohol or drugs, you have the right to terminate their employment with your company or you can request the employee to undergo a substance abuse program and have a negative drug test before they resume their duties.

The drug testing terms

You should familiarize yourself and your staff members with various drug testing terms. This includes a collector which refers to the person at a lab or clinic that does the drug test. There is also a donor who is an employee who is sent to take the drug test. Other terms include the medical review officer who is a licensed doctor responsible for reviewing the lab results. And, there is a sample, which can be saliva, hair, urine, or blood utilized to determine drug use. It’s crucial to know these terms used in the drug testing process so that you can reduce anxiety in a stressful situation. 

That said, you also need to follow your policy when you decide to request your employee to do a drug test. A third-party administrator can help you choose the type of test you need. Most employers need a 5-panel test to detect marijuana, opioids, amphetamines, steroids, cocaine, phencyclidine, and barbiturates.

In most cases, you may not ask about prescription drug use, and the collectors can also not ask. But if these are detected by any doctor, the donor can be contacted to provide a medical reason and prescription for why they use it.  

The collection process

The collection process is usually quite simple. You can decide to send your staff member for drug testing or even ask them to identify a clinic where they can do a drug test. It’s also a good idea to schedule a mobile drug testing unit that can come to your business premises, especially if you have several staff members to test simultaneously.

Regardless of whether you want to send the employee to a clinic or desire a clinic to come to you, the collection process is the same for your staff members. The collector utilizes ID to verify that the drug test is being done for the right person.

The donor needs to empty the pockets and pull out the liners to confirm that there are no samples or contaminants in their possession. No coats, gloves, hats, scarves, jackets, or many more are allowed. The donor needs to place all belongings in a secure place or within the eyesight of the sample collector. Take note that drug testing doesn’t need a donor to remove any other clothing or shoes.  

The donor needs to wash their hands so that they can prevent contaminating the sample. Remember that there is no water or soap in the testing room. The collector also shows the donor the sealed testing kit to ensure that it has not been tampered with.  

The donor can also ask any questions before they submit the sample. They cannot flush the toilet. This is because the toilet handle and tank are usually taped to prevent water from accessing the sample. The blue dye in the toilet confirms that the toilet wasn’t flushed. Then the collector tests the smell, color, and temperature of the sample to ensure that the donor submitted the required amount.  

There is a form that tracks and documents every hand that was in contact with the sample that includes testing to results. Then the collector can seal samples for the laboratory while in the presence of the donor. Lastly, the donor signs a form to confirm ownership of the sample. 


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