Drugs & Work
Over the years, there has been an increase in the consumption of drugs, reflected in most aspects of human life. Many may claim that nobody has the right to interfere with private habits. Nonetheless, when these habits affect other people’s lives, the issue is seen in quite a different light, such is the case of many companies that have now adhered to drug testing policies, nationwide.
Drug Testing in the Workplace
Why Drug Testing?
There are many reasons why a company would request their employees to take a drug test. Some of the most-widely mentioned ones include safety –especially when machine operation is involved-, efficiency, insurance coverage, policy or job requirements or simply, to get to know the workforce a bit better and offer the chance of rehabilitation to those employees who are facing some kind of substance addiction.
Can anybody do it?
Even when it would seem reasonable to carry out drug testing under certain circumstances, the truth is that not all employers are free to do it without violating certain employees’ rights. This is the reason why, every employer who wishes to put these controls into practice in their own companies, should do so, only under careful consideration and proper legal counselling. Some aspects companies should consider first include the following:
- Applicable statutes and regulations.
- Contracts and Insurance Requirements
- Certain specific lines of work, such as the ones that fall under the US Department of Transportation. These jobs for instance, require mandatory drug testing; failure to do so may derive in loss of insurance coverage or legal protection.
Whatever the reasons employers may have, it is essential that they analyze their drug testing policies thoroughly before these are put into practice.
Effective Drug Testing in the Workplace
Having an effective drug testing policy is an important part of any company’s planning strategy and should start out by having employers give out a copy of the policy to all employees upon admission. Asking employees to sign an acknowledgement that they have received a copy of the policy could be a condition set before hiring a candidate. Some companies have this drug and alcohol policy included in their overall policy manuals. However, it is often best to have drug testing policies stated on a separate sheet of paper. It should be made clear to new employees that by signing the acknowledgement, they are consenting to the search and test policy, as well.
What are the Most Common Drug Testing Methods?
Use of drugs can be determined through different methods. There are four basic ways to collect specimen and they are: urine, blood, breath and hair, but the urine drug test is still the most widely-sought after.
Urine Drug Test:
It is by large the most popular way to collect the biological specimen needed in order to carry out the technical analysis that will determine the presence –or absence- of illegal drugs. Urinalysis is used most often in sports or the workplace. Through this type of testing, employees can be screened for at least 12 of the most-widely used substances, such as amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, benzodiazepines, cannabinoids (THC) and synthetic cannabinoids, methadone, methaqualone, opioids, Phencyclidine, Propoxyphene, among many others. Even when this testing method is widely accepted and recognized for its efficiency, it has some weaknesses when compared to other methods. For one thing, even if it is very frequently used for employee screening, it is not really practical. The sample must be collected and protected so that it will not be tampered with in any way.
Once it has reached the testing laboratory, the actual analysis may take a while. Another disadvantage is that while the test will tell an employer whether an employee was on drugs or not, it will not be able to pinpoint how long ago the patient took the drug. The test works on a positive or negative (pass or fail) basis only, as it will not show light on how long the employee has been consuming the drug or how much has been used. Since lab urine testing is so impractical, certain pharmaceutical companies have launched drug testing kits that can be used instantly regardless of the location. Although the quality and efficiency of these tests vary from brand to brand, there is a general consent that instant tests can replace lab testing pretty well and results are very similar to those obtained in labs.