As recreational drugs of choice continue to change and as users find more ways to combine drugs to get “high”, or to use devices and adulterants to cheat the tests so does the need to ensure your policy and protocols are keeping pace. Here are some examples of key areas you’ll want to check:
- Medical Marijuana: What is your policy on this? Do you allow it in your workplace? What is your internal protocol when dealing with this if the result is confirmed positive?
- Dilute specimens: Do you have an understanding of what this means? For example, there are times when a negative but dilute specimen is perfectly acceptable, and others when it is not. Factors such as Creatinine, Nitrate and PH levels should be considered to truly determine if the sample is valid or not. Use a specimen validity test or a drug test kit with a adulterant test built in.
- Are you testing for the right drugs? This is one of the easiest things to address on your policy, but one of the things we rarely see reviewed or updated. For example; in today’s workplace environment more people are abusing Oxycodone and muscle-relaxants and tranquilizers (or combinations of all of these). Yet many policies are limited to the older 5 panel drug screens that were created based on regulations implemented in the late 1980’s and early 90’s and based upon drugs that were popular then. Today’s drugs of choice now include synthetic THC – Spice – K2, designer stimulants and synthetic opiates. Make sure you have a policy that is keeping up with these changes, or that your policy is open-ended enough to include them.
- Are you testing for the right reasons? If you advertise that you conduct drug testing as a prerequisite for employment, there’s a good chance that the candidate you are about to hire has “cleaned up” for the test by avoiding drugs for the past several days, diluting their specimen or otherwise attempting to cheat the test. It is also important to conduct random drug testing, reasonable suspicion drug testing and post-accident testing? If it doesn’t, we strongly recommend that you add these. And if you plan on doing random testing, consider how it will be managed. Will it be you be testing in house? How often will it be done and what percentage of your employees will be tested?
- Review your background screens, and are they still relevant? There are huge differences in background screens, and they can be very confusing. Are your background screens pulled from databases only, are they done manually or are they a combination? Database-only screens can contain data “noise” such as redundancies–data entry errors or they missing information. The information that they provide is dependent upon those databases being kept updated. They are not necessarily a bad thing, but you should be aware of the weaknesses of these “instant” background screens and the potential for missing critical information. You should also be aware of whether or not your background screens are pulling at the state level only, or are they national and if they include aliases, check for residence history, use of SS#, etc. Try to fit the screen to the job position and make sure the background information you need is really there.
If you want to know how drug abuse affects your business
in lost production and your bottom line, then read “Employee Drug Testing“.
When testing your employees it’s important to know why you are testing them and what drugs you wish to test for. Drug testing in the workplace needs to be structured so that your employees understand what it’s all about. You need to have an employee drug free workplace policy. This would explain what your company’s tolerances are to drug use and abuse. Include procedures for testing after an accident, pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, etc.
Let them read and understand the contents of the policy. It should be clear and concise, detail such aspects as what if an employee is positive, or what if a person is involved in an accident. Once your employees are issued their own copy of the policy, then drug testing becomes a straightforward process.
Building a drug free workplace policy.
Here are the questions you need to answer to build your drug free policy.
- What is the purpose/goal of your policy?
- Who will be covered by your policy?
- When will your policy apply?
- What behavior will be prohibited?
- Will employees be required to notify you of drug-related convictions?
- Will your policy include searches?
- Will your program include drug testing?
- What will the consequences be if your policy is violated?
- Will there be Return-to-Work Agreements?
- What type of assistance will be available?
- How will employee confidentiality be protected?
- Who will be responsible for enforcing your policy?
- How will your policy be communicated to employees?
Below are links to more information regarding workplace drug testing and what it could cost you if you don’t drug test your employees.