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Pre Employment Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy: Overview

10 November, 2023

A row of applicants waiting for their interview

Nowadays, employers are implementing their pre employment drug and alcohol testing policy to ensure they are hiring qualified applicants who are free from substance abuse. This set of guidelines is designed to protect workplace health and safety. To do this, employers use various testing methods to trace if the applicant may have substance abuse disorders. If the applicant receives a positive result, then they can be disqualified from the position. However, they may refute a non-negative result using confirmatory testing.

Companies must ensure the safety of their workers. This benefits them by mitigating legal risks and complying with relevant laws. Moreover, workers benefit from a healthy work environment. One of the purposes of a pre employment policy is to protect and promote a drug-free workplace. This is why they must test starting from pre employment. This article will present the definition of a pre employment substance testing policy, the test methods included, and the implications of a positive test result.

What is the Pre Employment Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy

A pre employment drug and alcohol testing policy is a set of guidelines and procedures the company follows regarding hiring applicants. This ensures that prospective employees are free from drug or alcohol abuse. Typically, it requires applicants to pass a drug and alcohol test as a condition for employment. However, this condition must be included in the job posting to ensure applicants are informed before testing.

This policy helps employers make informed decisions before accepting applicants. This is crucial for high-risk industries like mining, construction, and aviation. Misusing substances increases the risks of reckless behaviours. Thus, employers must ensure that safety-critical jobs go to responsible individuals. After all, accidents may cause injury to everyone in the workplace and even the general public.

Accidents may cause severe damage to the reputation of the company. Furthermore, individuals who are under the influence of substances may have their performance affected. This lowers workplace productivity and increases the employee turnover rate. Altogether, these negatively impact the company.

Purpose of the Guidelines

These are some purposes of pre employment policies:

  • Ensuring workplace safety is the duty of business. Through this policy, they may identify applicants who may cause safety risks.
  • Companies must comply with the applicable federal and state laws and regulations, like the Work Health and Safety Act.
  • Employers may reduce occurrences of accidents by hiring responsible candidates who are not prone to reckless behaviour from substance misuse.
  • Businesses may mitigate legal risks by ensuring their employees do not have substance use issues.
  • Companies may promote productivity and morale by ensuring their employees are not impaired from liquor and drug use.

A doctor holding a sterile urine collection bottle

Test Methods Included in a Pre Employment Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy

Companies may include several testing procedures in their pre employment drug and alcohol testing policy. Urine tests are the standard method for workplace liquor and drug testing. Urine samples hold traces of substances for up to 24 hours. Furthermore, using ethyl glucuronide (EtG) tests extends the detection window for ethanol to 80 hours.

Saliva tests are also typically used because of their convenient collection procedure. Saliva samples are gathered using a swab stick applied under the tongue or inside the cheek. This screening method has a detection window of 12 hours. Meanwhile, hair testing offers a detection period of 90 days. This helps acquire a long-term history of drug use.

Blood tests are commonly considered as the most accurate tests. Typically, it has a detection period of 12 hours. However, using carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) and Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) tests increases the detection of ethanol to weeks. Lastly, a breath test is ideal for measuring the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of an individual. Breathalysers may detect alcohol consumption within 24 hours.

What Substances Can Be Detected

Companies may select which substances they wish to trace while conducting pre employment testing. They may inform their drug and alcohol testing services of which substances they must search for. Some of the commonly tested substances are ethanol, marijuana, cocaineopioids, amphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP). This is because these substances are well-known and cause significant impairment.

Ethanol is an active ingredient in many alcoholic beverages, such as wine, beer, and vodka. Screening may also detect prescription drugs like opioid painkillers and amphetamines. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that many people use. Some use it for medical reasons, but it may still cause impairment in workers.

A drug test result

Implications of a Positive Result in a Pre Employment Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy

A pre employment drug and alcohol testing policy must clearly outline what steps to take when a potential employee receives a positive result. A non-negative result to a pre employment testing can have significant implications for the applicant. It must be taken seriously to avoid adverse effects on the individual and the employer.

From the perspective of the employer, a positive result indicates that the applicant may not be a good fit for the company. This is because of possible safety concerns. In addition, it brings to question their ability to perform effectively once hired. Furthermore, they may have a legal obligation to inform authorities of the consumption of illegal drugs.

Furthermore, a positive test outcome may result in a lost job opportunity for the applicant. This may damage their professional reputation and make it difficult for them to seek employment. It may also inform them of possible substance abuse disorders. However, if they are sure of their innocence, they may request confirmatory testing to disprove a false positive result.

Can an Applicant Request for a Confirmatory Testing

Applicants may request confirmatory testing to ensure the accuracy of the test. In these cases, further analysis of previously provided samples can be done. Employers may also use laboratory testing to get more accurate results. Laboratories use specialised methods like gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to produce more detailed reports.

If the confirmatory testing result reports the individual is negative for drugs and alcohol, the employer can discard the previous test. By using this method, companies can ensure fairness and prevent false accusations. This is important since tests do not have 100% accuracy, and some medical conditions may affect the results of screening methods.

Conclusion

A pre employment drug and alcohol testing policy is a crucial tool for ensuring that hired applicants are free from substance misuse issues. This set of guidelines helps companies ensure safety in the workplace and reduce the risk of accidents. It also helps them comply with relevant laws like the Work Health and Safety Act. Employers may use urine, blood, salivabreath, and hair testing methods to detect traces of substance use.

However, they must take care to protect the privacy of the individual. At most, only relevant personnel should be informed. In the case of a positive test result, they may allow the applicant to take confirmatory testing to refute the previous result. Doing this promotes fairness and enables individuals to prove their innocence. By using laboratory testing, employers and applicants may acquire more reliable results. For initial screening, companies may use BACtrack breathalysers to measure BAC levels.

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