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Drug And Alcohol Test For Employment: Purpose, Types, and Results

24 August, 2023

Applicants ready for a drug and alcohol test for employment

Drug and alcohol tests for employment serve an important purpose in ensuring a safe and productive work environment. These tests assess drug or alcohol use in job applicants and employees, which can impair their abilities and pose risks. Employers use various methods, including urine, blood, hair, saliva, and breath tests. The results of these tests may indicate job suitability or reveal substance abuse issues needing intervention or treatment.

In the past few years, various industries have witnessed a rising worry about drug and alcohol abuse. This issue not only endangers the individuals engaged but also threatens the safety of colleagues. Consequently, an increasing number of companies are adopting drug and alcohol tests to reduce these risks. This article will present the purpose of drug and alcohol testing for employment. It will also cover the different types of testing and the management of test results.

Why Organisations Conduct Drug And Alcohol Test For Employment

Organisations conduct drug and alcohol tests for employment to ensure a safe workplace. These tests identify substances that can impair an individual’s job performance, including judgement, coordination, and overall functioning. Companies screen potential employees for drugs and alcohol to establish a secure environment for staff members. This helps reduce the risk of accidents and incidents that may harm employees or jeopardise workplace safety.

Additionally, drug and alcohol testing serves the purpose of promoting a productive work environment. Substances such as drugs and alcohol can hinder an employee’s ability to perform optimally, leading to decreased productivity and errors. Therefore, organisations implement employment testing to select candidates who can effectively contribute to the team. This approach helps maintain higher performance levels.

Moreover, conducting workplace drug testing enables organisations to comply with legal requirements. Many industries must adhere to regulations and standards that demand a drug-free workplace, ensuring employee and community safety. By incorporating employment testing, organisations demonstrate commitment to these obligations, fostering trust with regulatory authorities, stakeholders, and the public.

Significance Of Testing

  • Candidate reliability: helps organisations assess the reliability and dependability of potential employees, ensuring they can fulfil their job responsibilities consistently.
  • Health and wellness promotion: emphasises the importance of employees’ physical and mental well-being.
  • Conflict prevention: contributes to reducing workplace conflicts and behavioural issues, creating a focused work environment.
  • Fairness and equality: ensures a level playing field for all candidates, promoting fairness and equal treatment throughout the hiring process.
  • Deterrent effect: the presence of employment testing discourages prospective employees with drug usage issues from applying.
  • Improved focus: maintains higher levels of focus, attention, and commitment to tasks, contributing to improved overall work quality.

 

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What Are The Types Of Drug And Alcohol Test For Employment

Employers often use several types of drug and alcohol tests for employment. Firstly, urine drug tests are a prevalent method for detecting drug and alcohol use in potential employees. This non-invasive method involves collecting a urine sample from the individual and analysing it for the presence of drug metabolites. Additionally, urine tests are relatively cost-effective and offer a substantial detection window.

Secondly, blood tests provide detailed information about a person’s drug and alcohol use by analysing a blood sample. These tests are highly accurate but have a shorter detection window than urine tests. Thirdly, hair tests provide an extensive detection window, often covering several months. Employees’ hair samples are collected and analysed to identify long-term patterns of drug consumption.

Additionally, saliva tests require individuals to provide a saliva sample to detect recent drug use within the past few hours. Lastly, companies widely use breath tests, also known as breathalyser tests, to identify alcohol impairment. Individuals exhale into a device, which measures the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in their breath. This method is particularly valuable for assessing immediate alcohol intoxication and impairment.

Commonly-tested Drugs

The most commonly tested drugs during employment testing include alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and cocaine. These substances are screened for due to their potential to impair an individual’s cognitive and motor skills. People should be aware that results indicating recent use of any of these drugs might impact their eligibility for hire.

Employment screenings commonly test these substances due to their potential to jeopardise workplace safety and job performance. Alcohol impairs judgement, coordination, and reaction times. Marijuana and amphetamines affect cognitive and motor skills, while barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and cocaine induce drowsiness, erratic behaviour, and reduced focus.

 

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How To Handle Non-negative Results During Drug And Alcohol Test For Employment

Employers must establish a well-defined drug and alcohol policy outlining the potential ramifications of non-negative test outcomes. Such a policy serves as a vital foundation for addressing situations where candidates’ test results indicate substance use. By explicitly stating the consequences, companies communicate their stance on substance use and set expectations for prospective employees.

Additionally, companies need to maintain a drug and alcohol test for employment that is both dependable and precise. This involves employing certified testing methods and equipment to minimise the likelihood of false positives or negatives. Prioritising the accuracy of the testing procedure allows employers to confidently address non-negative results, enabling them to make informed decisions.

Moreover, organisations should offer necessary support and resources for individuals with confirmed positive drug test results. This can involve providing access to counselling services, substance abuse programs, or avenues for seeking assistance and guidance. Employers demonstrate a commitment to their well-being by extending a helping hand to employees facing such results. Hence, this action fosters an environment conducive to personal growth and improvement.

Legal Implications

Employment testing has significant legal implications. Many countries and states have specific laws and regulations in place regarding workplace drug and alcohol testing. These laws aim to protect the rights of employees and ensure fair and non-discriminatory practices. Therefore, employers must comply with these laws to avoid legal consequences such as lawsuits and penalties.

Candidates or employees have the right to be informed about drug testing policies and procedures established by their employers. However, employers can also refuse to hire individuals who decline employment tests. If employees sense unfair treatment, they can file complaints with regulators, or seek legal counsel to address potential rights violations.

Conclusion

Organisations conduct drug and alcohol tests for employment to ensure employee safety, maintain a productive environment, and comply with legal obligations. Various testing methods, such as urine, blood, hair, saliva, and breath tests, are employed to accurately detect substance use. Additionally, handling non-negative results needs a well-defined policy and accurate testing procedures. Providing support resources for individuals who receive non-negative results reinforces a commitment to their well-being.

Moreover, employers frequently focus on testing drugs that have the potential to impair cognitive and motor skills during employment screenings. These illicit drugs include alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and cocaine. Additionally, adhering to legal regulations remains crucial as employee rights to fair treatment must be respected by employers. Ensuring transparency in testing policies holds significant importance. This allows employees to voice concerns through regulations or legal channels in case their rights are violated.

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