Employees are key to the success of any organization. Due to their efforts, tasks and projects are completed on time. But, the problem starts when some of your employees start showing unprofessional conduct in the workplace. One of the reasons for such change of behavior can be attributed to drug use. That is why it is important for organizations to conduct employee drug testing.
Drug tests are conducted to find out any evidence of drug use, from normal prescription medication to illicit drugs. But, for the right results it is important for organizations to have a strict written policy pertaining to drug use that needs to be circulated amongst employees. It is also very important to educate the potential dangers of drug abuse.
Before you contemplate on conducting employee drug testing, you should know the answers to these five questions. They will assist you in making the right decision.
1. Why do I need to conduct employee drug testing?
When employees take drugs it has an adverse effect on their health and safety. It also results in decreased productivity and poor employee morale. You can also incur additional costs in the form of health care claims, especially short term disability claims. Some of the common reasons to conduct employee drug testing, include:
- To stop the employee from taking drugs;
- To identify those employees early who are drug addicts that can be corrected;
- To provide a safe work environment for other employees in the organization;
- To protect the general public and instill confidence in their minds that employees are working safely;
- To comply with State Laws or Federal regulations;
- To take benefit from Workers’ Compensation Premium Discount programs.
2 What is the procedure of conducting employee drug testing? How accurate is it?
Normally employers are given a liberty when it comes to determining how an employee drug testing will fit in their organization. Only federally regulated organizations like the U.S. Department of Transportation have to comply with some regulations when it comes to drug testing.
Federal agencies conducting drug tests need to follow the SAMHSA Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing, require a medical officer to be present during testing. For workplace testing, urine analysis is the most common testing method being used which is conducted at a doctor’s clinic or medical facility selected by the employer. During the process, the employee provides a urine sample that is managed appropriately to avoid adulteration while also maintaining the privacy of the individual.
If SAMHSA guidelines are followed, the sample will be taken to a certified laboratory for comprehensive testing. It has been observed that the accuracy level is high at these laboratories as they are certified to test for five primary substances and alcohol. If the tests are found to be positive, the employer will be informed. It should be noted that certain medications will produce a positive result, hence it is important for the employees to provide any information pertaining to the prescribed medication that is taken.
3. What is the cost of conducting employee drug testing?
The cost of conducting employee drug testing is dependent on the frequency of the test being conducted and the amount you are able to save on the setup cost. But before you contemplate on conducting drug test it is important to include a new section in the employee manual about the rules and regulations for conducting employee drug testing. Have an attorney look at the things before you finalize it as laws governing drug testing differ greatly from one state to another and even by municipality. Check out the state-by-state summaries of laws and regulations regarding drug testing.
After having a policy in place, the tests range between $ 25 to $ 45 for five-panel or 10-panel drug screen test. To get the exact cost of conducting employee drug testing on an annual basis, calculate the estimated times you experience workplace accidents which will prompt you to conduct the test and the frequency of conducting random drug test on the employees.
4. Are there any chances for the employee drug test results to be unreliable?
It has generally been observed that drug testing laboratories show reliable results. But the drug tests used by many organizations can be unpredictable. The most prevalent used screens can provide false positive results between 10 to 30 percent of the time. This false positive result can be attributed to result from the drug screen to confuse like compounds.
Let us now look at some common compound confusion that lead to false positives:
- Advil for marijuana
- Nyquil for amphetamines
- Vicks Formula 44 for heroin
There are certain over the counter items that produce positive results, including:
- Herbal teas
- Poppy seeds
There are certain tests that are more precise but they are expensive and used less frequently.
5. What are the different kinds of employee drug tests available?
The different kinds of employee drug tests include:
A ) Urine, blood, hair and saliva tests
These tests show whether the employee has used illicit drug in the past.
B) Blood, breath and urine tests
Typically conducted if an employee is suspected to be high on drugs.
C) Five-panel screen tests
Tests conducted in a lab to screen the combination of illegal and legal-but-often-abused-drugs for amphetamines like Methamphetamine also known as “crystal meth”; cannabinoids such as marijuana; phencyclidine or PCP; cocaine, including “crack” cocaine; and opiates such as codeine, heroin, Vicodin, morphine and oxycodone.
D) 10-panel screen tests
Conducted to screen employees for substances mentioned above along with benzodiazepines or “downers” and barbiturates; propoxyphene; methaqualone or “ludes” and methadone.
If you are seriously thinking about introducing employee drug testing in your organization, establish your organization’s policy regarding drug testing. Address these questions in the policy:
- What consequences will the employees face when the test results are positive?
- What would be the frequency of the test? Who will be tested?
- Who is going to administer these tests? One of your employees or laboratory?
- How will you keep the information of the employee being tested confidential?
- Whether you would like to manage the drug-testing program or take the services of an experienced background screening vendor?
Once you have addressed these questions, inform your employees about the new policy and ensure that you follow the local and state laws pertaining to employee drug testing. This way your workplace will become a safe place; and you will have the peace of mind, that you have made a huge difference in your organization.