Top 5 Things to Know for Employee Drug Testing

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Drug testing may seem intimidating, but it isn’t meant to be. How you prepare for employee drug testing determines how anxious they may be.

Reassure your employee there is no accusation of using or abusing drugs or alcohol. Employee drug testing is meant to discourage drug use and maintain a safe work environment for all. Those working in safety-sensitive jobs as defined by the federal government are required to submit to drug testing before employment, after an accident and at random times throughout the year. Depending on the employee pool and government entity regulating your company, your employees may be randomly tested once a year or so or several times a year.

1. Why Implement Employee Drug Testing?

Businesses regulated by the federal or state government have no choice but to drug test. If you aren’t regulated you can still create a drug-free policy for your business requiring employee drug testing. Here are some reasons you might consider drug testing:

Pre-employment Drug Test 

Many companies ask applicants to take a drug test, although most don’t ask until offering a job. Employment often depends on the results of the drug test. Notified applicants ahead of time if pre-employment drug testing is part of the hiring process.

Random Drug Test

Random drug testing requires that all employees have an equal chance of being chosen to take a drug test. Most businesses use a computer program to randomly select names for drug testing, making selection truly random. All employees are entered into the pool even if they were just recently selected for a random drug test.

Post-Accident Drug Test

Employees involved in a work accident may be asked to take a post-accident drug test. You’ll want to assure your employee that you aren’t accusing them of drug use. A drug test rules out drug and alcohol use so he/she can receive workers’ compensation.

Reasonable Suspicion Drug Test

If you suspect drug or alcohol impairment, either drive your employee to a testing clinic, arrange for a ride or request a mobile testing unit to come to you. Do not allow the employee to drive himself to the testing clinic. Document your observations carefully and follow your policy before asking an employee to submit to a drug test. If your employee tests positive, you are within your rights to terminate employment or require the employee to complete a substance abuse program and submit a negative drug test before returning to work.

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2. Know Your Drug Testing Terms

Familiarize yourself and your employees with the following drug testing terms:

  • Collector – the person at the clinic or lab that conducts the drug test
  • Donor – the employee sent to take a drug test
  • Medical Review Officer – a licensed physician responsible for reviewing lab results
  • Sample – urine (most common), saliva, hair or (rarely) blood used to determine drug use

Knowing the language of the drug testing process reduces anxiety in a potentially stressful situation.

3. Know Which Drugs to Include in the Drug Test

Follow your policy when requesting an employee drug test. If you need help deciding what kind of test to require, a Third Party Administrator (TPA), like Lobdock Impairment Detection, can help you. Most employers require a 5-panel test to detect the following:

  • Marijuana
  • Opioids (heroin, codeine, oxycodone, morphine, hydrocodone, fentanyl)
  • Amphetamines (including methamphetamine)
  • Cocaine
  • Steroids
  • Barbiturates (phenobarbital, secobarbital)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

What about prescription medication?

Under most circumstances, you are not allowed to ask about prescription drug use. The collector will not ask either. However, if those are detected by the Medical Review Officer (MRO), the donor will be contacted to confirm a medical reason and prescription for use.

4. Understand the Collection Process

The process is simple. Either you choose where to send your employee for drug testing or ask them to find a clinic. Consider scheduling a mobile drug testing unit to come to you if you have many employees to test at the same time.

Lobdock Impairment Detection offers 24/7 mobile on-site testing as well as in clinic

Whether you send them to a clinic or have the clinic come to you, the process is the same for your employees:

  1. Show your ID. The collector uses ID to verify the right person is taking the drug test.
  2. Remove contents. Pockets must be emptied and liners pulled out to confirm there are no contaminants or samples in the donor’s possession. No hats, gloves, coats, jackets, scarves, etc. are allowed. All belongings are placed in a secure location or within eyesight of the collector. Drug testing does not require removal of any other clothing or shoes.
  3. Wash hands to prevent contaminating the sample. There is no access to soap and water in the testing room.
  4. Inspect the specimen kit. The collector shows the donor that the kit is sealed and hasn’t been exposed to tampering.
  5. Ask questions. The donor is welcome to ask any questions before submitting the sample.
  6. Submit the sample. Don’t flush the toilet. The toilet tank and handle are taped down to prevent access to water so the sample can’t be diluted. Blue dye in the toilet confirms it hasn’t been flushed. The collector tests the temperature, color and smell of the sample and makes sure the required amount was submitted.
  7. Chain of custody. This form tracks and documents all hands that touched the sample from testing to results. The collector seals samples for the lab in the presence of the donor. The donor signs to confirm ownership of the sample.

5. Prepare for Drug Testing Obstacles

Despite best preparations, sometimes the drug testing process isn’t as smooth as we think it should be. Here are some of the most common problems:

Shy Bladder

Shy bladder refers to the inability to provide a sufficient amount of urine for the drug test. In this case, a donor must remain at the clinic within view of the collector. The collector will encourage the donor to drink up to 40 oz. of water within 3 hours and try again. Leaving the clinic before finishing the test is reported as a refusal to test.

Refusal to Test

If a donor refuses to test, the collector documents it as such. However, leaving the clinic before leaving a sample (as mentioned above) and failure to appear within a reasonable time as determined by you, the employer, are also considered test refusals. Failure to cooperate with any of the testing procedures or undergo a medical evaluation as directed by the MRO also result in a refusal.

Off Temperature Samples

Urine samples must be between 90-100 degrees. The collection cup measures amount and temperature of the sample. If urine measures outside of the range of acceptability, the donor must take a second, observed test. The collector sends both samples to the lab. If either one tests positive for drugs, the MRO calls the donor to determine if there is a legal or medical reason for drug use. Take the necessary action as outlined in your drug policy for positive results.

Adulterated or Substituted Samples

If a collector finds irregularities in a donor’s sample, the donor will be asked to provide a 2nd sample. The procedure is the same as for off-temperature samples.

Reassure your employees there’s no need to feel afraid or ashamed. Drug testing ensures a safe workplace for everyone.

Let Lobdock Impairment Detection handle your drug and alcohol testing program. We treat our clients with dignity and respect. Feel free to contact us if you have questions or concerns or call us at 405-822-0553.

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