Workplace Drug Testing Methods
24 July, 2023
In high-risk industries, workplace drug testing has become a standard procedure. It uses a variety of methods, including urine, saliva, blood, and hair tests. Additionally, drug testing offers a cost-effective way to maintain a hazard-free work environment. Therefore, companies utilise this testing to discourage substance use, minimise accidents, and boost productivity. However, drug testing at the workplace comes with several issues. These include invasion of privacy, the reliability of the tests, and the impact of failed drug tests on employees.
The demand for workplace testing increases due to the impact of drugs and alcohol-related incidents on safety and productivity. Illegal substances have harmful effects on the brain and bodily functions, impairing cognitive abilities and motor coordination. This raises the risk of accidents and severe injuries in the workplace. Consequently, companies adopt drug testing policies to address these risks. This article will cover the drug testing methods, advantages, and guidelines for testing.
Workplace Drug Testing Methods
Companies rely on various methods to conduct workplace drug testing. Firstly, the urine drug test is favoured due to its convenience and quick results. This test can identify most types of drugs, making it suitable for on-site testing. Secondly, blood tests provide highly accurate results and detailed information about recent drug use. These tests help validate initial screening results.
Thirdly, saliva tests involve swabbing the inside of a person’s cheek using a collection stick. The collected sample is then secured and analysed in the laboratory. Saliva tests can trace drugs in the system for up to 48 hours. Lastly, hair tests have a longer detection period of 90 days. During these tests, a small sample of hair is collected from an individual, usually from the shaft.
Various drug testing suits different situations. In many instances, companies utilise urine or saliva tests for screening because they offer convenience in random testing. Another option involves employers conducting hair drug tests to determine if the employees abuse drugs. Additionally, companies may choose to employ mobile laboratory services or use instant test kits.
Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policy
Workers employed under a company or business with a comprehensive workplace drug and alcohol policy must:
- Refrain from using or abusing drugs or alcohol while employed. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis for prescribed medications.
- Ensure that consuming alcoholic beverages outside of work hours does not negatively impact their work performance the following day.
- Prohibit from working while impaired by illegal substances, particularly in high-risk jobs.
- Agree and comply with the company or business’ workplace drug and alcohol policy.
- Promptly report any indications of co-workers being under the influence of drugs or alcohol to prevent potential incidents.
Advantages of Workplace Drug Testing
Many businesses implement workplace policies to handle job-related risks. High-risk industries, such as those involving heavy machinery or dangerous materials, have strict policies that do not tolerate substance use. Workplace drug testing can detect even small amounts of drugs, which can cause serious injuries. This helps identify existing risks and manage them before an accident happens.
Drug testing in the workplace serves as a way to encourage healthy habits and discourage substance use. Employees understand that failing a drug test can result in severe consequences, including suspension or termination from employment. Additionally, companies fulfil their legal obligations by implementing policies that ensure a safe working environment for everyone. By conducting regular drug testing, they also minimise their legal liabilities in the event of an accident.
Moreover, drug testing at the workplace can improve employees’ productivity and morale. Maintaining a stable workforce decreases absenteeism and turnover. It creates a positive work environment and enhances employee confidence, leading to improved performance. Furthermore, companies can offer assistance to individuals in need through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This program allows those facing substance use issues to seek treatment.
Employee Assistance Program
EAP provides essential guidance, support, and counselling to affected employees. It offers a lifeline during challenging times. Additionally, EAP addresses individual needs through education and assessments. By monitoring drug abstinence, EAP ensures a safe work environment and speedy recovery, enabling employees to return to work quickly.
Furthermore, EAP plays a vital role in minimising long-term work disruption and healthcare expenses. It provides timely support to prevent employees’ problems from worsening. Moreover, EAP offers training that helps employees identify signs of substance abuse and strengthen peer relationships. Overall, this program contributes to a healthier and more productive workforce.
When to Conduct Workplace Drug Testing
Employers often conduct workplace drug testing in various situations. Firstly, they perform pre-employment testing to screen potential employees for substance abuse. This testing assists businesses in determining if applicants are qualified and contributes to the creation of a safe work environment. Applicants should avoid substance use to boost their chances of getting the job.
Secondly, organisations use blanket testing to screen all employees without targeting specific individuals. It contributes to the creation of a fair playing field and treats all employees equally when it comes to testing. Thirdly, companies administer post-incident testing to evaluate whether or not substance use was a factor in the occurrence. This enables them to take proper measures to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.
Fourthly, employers conduct reason for suspicion testing when there is clear evidence that an employee may be impaired. Slurred speech, shaky movements, or an obvious behavioural change are examples of warning symptoms. Finally, companies employ random drug testing. It involves randomly choosing employees from a roster of workers and testing them for substance use.
Some people find workplace testing to be a difficult subject. Employers must ensure that the screening procedure is conducted in line with applicable laws and regulations. It is critical to employ state-certified devices or methods that adhere to Australian screening standards. Additionally, employers must require all applicants to go through the same testing.
Furthermore, applicants who failed the initial drug test should be able to challenge their results. They may request confirmation through blood tests or other advanced testing, which will be evaluated by a Medical Review Officer (MRO). Finally, after passing the pre-employment qualifications, employers must advise the applicants of any additional conditions.
Companies employ different methods for workplace drug testing. Urine tests are convenient and provide quick results, making them suitable for on-site testing. Blood tests offer accurate results and detailed information about recent drug use. Saliva tests trace drugs for up to 48 hours, while hair tests have a longer detection period of 90 days. Employers can choose the appropriate test based on the situation. Some companies may utilise mobile laboratory services or instant test kits.
Furthermore, drug testing at the workplace offers several advantages. It helps identify and manage job-related risks, promotes healthy habits, and fulfils legal obligations. Moreover, it improves productivity and creates a positive work environment. Companies can also provide support through EAP for individuals in need. In several situations, drug testing is conducted, including pre-employment, blanket, post-incident, reason for suspicion, and random. However, employers must comply with laws and use certified methods to ensure efficient testing.