Thursday, August 2, 2007

Employee Drug Testing

Why Most Drug Testing Programs DON'T WORK !

Effective Substance Abuse Management or The Importance of Deterrence ....

Pre-employment drug screening, using traditional lab-based urine tests, is the most widespread method of drug testing. Yet, data shows that this mode of testing is not effective at deterring workplace drug abuse. Why ....

Scheduled drug screening allows abusers to either temporarily stop using drugs or take advantage of the abundance of products available on the Internet to adulterate urine-based tests.


Urine is clearly out of the question in a workplace environment... are YOU going to WATCH SOMEONE PEE INTO A CUP?

Oral fluid-based testing for drugs of abuse, however, enables corporations to perform random drug testing – conveniently, easily, and accurately.

The unpredictability of a random drug test virtually eliminates the possibility of an employee temporarily abstaining from drug use.
With observed collections, oral fluid testing removes any possibility of sample adulteration or substitution.

Oral fluid-based technology is changing the way companies drug test, allowing them to establish more effective drug free workplace programs to benefit employees and employers alike.

STATS support that Urine Drug Testing isn't the Solution
77% percent of drug abusers are employed
Nearly 10% of U.S. workers are abuse drugs
The average annual cost of drug abuse for U.S. businesses averages $10,000 per abuser and well over $140B nationwide.

Employees Reporting Drug Abuse Within Past Year by Industry
vs. 10% Average

Construction MORE
Manufacturing MORE
Hospitality / Lodging MORE
Retail MORE
Finance / Real Estate MORE

Why Drug Test?
The devastating impacts of drug abuse upon corporate safety, productivity, and the financial bottom-line are well documented. Up to 65% of on-the-job construction accidents can be related to substance abuse, while insurers note that drug and alcohol use is linked to 40% of construction fatalities. Drug abuse also negatively impacts employee turnover, absenteeism, workplace violence, inventory shrinkage/employee theft, and medical insurance utilization rates.

How can owners, employees, unions, and insurers, significantly improve job-site safety?
- Deterring and/or detecting on the job substance abuse. It is a first step to ensuring a safer, happier workplace environment, and one that just might just save a drug abuser’s life, or your own.

How should you drug test?
Manycorporations/contractors believe following “DOT Standards” is the most effective way to create a safer, drug free workplace. Unfortunately, this is a false, yet common belief.
DOT and other federally mandated drug testing regulations, are required in certain limited circumstances (truck drivers for specified classes of vehicles, vehicles carrying a certain number of passengers, etc.).
However, this traditional type of drug testing is over 20 years old and doesn’t test for many of today’s newer designer drugs. Furthermore, it is cumbersome to say the least, as it relies exclusively upon laboratory-based urine drug testing “Beating a test” by adding any of the hundreds of products readily available on Internet or substituting one’s specimen with drug-free urineor synthetic urine is commonplace. The practice has become so ineffective that thereare arguably more drug abuser’s “beating urine tests” than there are drug positives from this outdated method.

Drug Free Workplace Policy

A good place to start with any drug-free workplace program is to establish goals and objectives appropriate for your organization. These will help you create a foundation to write your workplace drug policy: a prerequisite to the implementation of any drug testing program.

When it comes to implementing a drug free workplace program, the documentation and impartial application of policy are critical. Not only do ad hoc approaches not work, they can cause serious employee moral and legal issues. Drug testing is a strategic corporate issue affecting everyone in the organization as well as corporate image. Therefore, company-wide involvement and “buy-in” are needed across all levels, including CEOs, CFOs, COOs, HR, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, Occupational Health and Safety, and employees. When implementing any drug testing program, it is recommended that the following areas be considered:·

Legal ramifications, a.k.a. “What rules apply”·

Type of testing: pre-employment, random, post accident, return-to-duty, reasonable suspicion/cause ·

Ease of use/administration of testing methods·

Immediacy of results

The following components are typically included in a comprehensive drug-free workplace program:

A written, signed drug testing policy

Drug tests: on-site as well as laboratory-based, using appropriate specimen types: oral fluid, urine, and hair

GC/LS/MS laboratory confirmatory testing

MRO (medical review officer) services

Employee assistance programs

Ongoing drug education and awareness programs

The problem with Pre-employment Testing ONLY:
While many companies have been practicing pre-employment testing for more than twenty years, it has been only marginally effective at reducing drugs in the workplace for two reasons: 1) Pre-employment testing, by definition, only addresses a small part of the workplace and 2) pre-employment testing ignores the fact that more than 77% of drug abusers are currently in the workforce.
Pre-employment testing can also be easily circumvented by drug abusers. Any type of testing with a previously scheduled date, allows applicants or employees that abuse drugs to employ a wide variety of methods to avoid detection as previously noted.

Random Testing
Random testing of the full workforce, while currently practiced by a small subset of corporate innovators, has proven to be the most effective deterrent to illicit drugs in the workplace.

Post-accident testing
Post-accident testing has become the norm for larger businesses, and most states allow employers to deny workers compensation benefits to employees who test positive for drugs of abuse.

Reasonable cause/suspicion testing
Reasonable cause/suspicion testing is helpful if employees and supervisors are trained to recognize the signs/ symptoms of drug abuse. Return-to-duty testing Return-to-duty testing is a means of enabling employees to come back to work, after testing positive to drugs of abuse. These employees usually complete an employee assistance program and/or similar substance abuse recovery program and undergo random testing.

Newer technologies are also important to consider
– A mini Case Study When one construction firm decided to institute a random drug testing program for all the company’s employees, they began researching drug testing tools. They discovered that many companies relied on lab-based urine testing. But, by nature, urine testing wouldn’t lend itself well to a construction environment. Collecting the sample would be troublesome, as laborers would have to be observed during the entire process to ensure no adulteration would take place. Furthermore, workers would have to leave the job site, possibly for hours at a time, for specimen collection. Plus, each test would cost more than $150-$200 including lost labor. Urine testing was determined to be cost-prohibitive. After further research, they discovered that oral-based drug testing eliminated many of the drawbacks of urine testing and offered more effective results. In fact oral-based testing was the only technology that would allow the company to implement a truly random drug testing program. By collecting just a swab of a person’s saliva oral fluid-based tests can detect drugs almost immediately after ingestion. Urine tests can only detect drugs six to nine hours after a drug has been ingested; enough time for the drug to metabolize show up in urine. Current oral-based testing tools were easy to administer and would allow the Director of Safety to do all the testing himself, with results ready in less than 15 minutes. The impacts on this construction firm were astounding. Its accident rate dropped to near zero, workers compensation premiums dropped 13%, and overall savings were calculated in the millions.

A Workplace Benefit
A carefully designed comprehensive drug-free workplace program is a clear benefit to everyone: employers, employees, unions, insurers, and owners/shareholders.
While zero tolerance relative to substance abuse is critical, however, programs can be non-punitive in nature.
The existence of a random drug testing program acts as a strong deterrent, however there will still be instances where employees are detected abusing drugs. When this occurs, it is recommended that the employee be offered an opportunity to participant in, and successfully complete, an employee assistance program. While not being allowed to work in a position that could negatively affect workplace safety during an interim period is a benefit, “firing” an employee, vs. temporary suspension, might not best serve anyone’s best interests. The company may be losing an otherwise excellent employee based upon the specific circumstances involved. Furthermore, fellow non-abusing employees are more likely to come forward and report incidents of drug abuse, if they know that fellow workers will be provided an opportunity to address the issue vs. being terminated.
Training employees, supervisors, and even families of the signs/symptoms of drug abuse may also be of significant benefit. How effective will an employee be if a family member has reached advanced stages of drug abuse?

The Future
Many, if not most, senior “C-level” professionals aren’t even aware of the significant threats posed by workplace drug abuse.

The following responses are typical to “Why don’t you drug test at XYQ corporation?” and demonstrate a cultural tendency to sweep the problem under the rug, and/or a lack of education/awareness:

“ We don’t have a drug abuse problem at OUR company”

“ Implementing a comprehensive drug-free workplace problem, inclusive of drug testing would be TOO HARD for our corporation.”

Unfortunately a catastrophic event is required to drive some corporation’s to effect change. Yet, more and more companies are beginning to take the advice of their safety and risk management teams, and pro-actively address workplace drug abuse.

Drug free-workplace programs and innovative technologies such as oral fluid-based random testing offer employers and employees a means to protect themselves, from this pervasive problem.

With multiple avenues available to help solve the problem of workplace drug abuse, the final question remains, “Why don’t you test?”

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