Recent studies have shown that nearly 17% of all adults regularly use illegal drugs. The responsibility of maintaining a safe working environment rests on the employer’s shoulders. If there are employees or hired contractors that are under the influence while at your work site, the work environment can no longer be considered safe. Not only do they put themselves in danger, but they also put their coworkers and other staff members at risk. Studies suggest that employees who are under the influence of drugs are 33% less productive and ten times more likely to call in sick that those who are not drug users.
It is the responsibility of the employer to make sure they have implemented a sufficient alcohol and drug policy, even if they do not subject employees to regular drug tests. Sadly, there are many employers who have yet to implement such a policy, and are leaving themselves vulnerable to possible future litigation.
Organizations that specialize in this department are available. These organizations create effective solutions that address concerns pertaining to alcohol and drug use in the workplace. Their services include educating managers or senior staff members on the subject, creating new drug and alcohol policies, and providing guidance for the implementation of drug testing programs.
One thing is for sure, there is a definite need for organizations in both the private and public sectors to help employers implement important policies to address any possible alcohol or drug issues. While these policies will not necessarily prevent any alcohol or drug use, they will prepare your company to handle these situations should they occur.
Commonly Used Drug and Alcohol Testing Methods
Listed below are the four drug and alcohol testing methods most commonly used. Be advised that they do vary greatly in accuracy, sensitivity and accurate testing periods. As with any kind of medical test, a multitude of factors can affect the test’s accuracy.
Blood Test: This type of testing is rarely utilized, as it is invasive and typically only used in medical settings where full toxicology screening is required. Because drug or alcohol use would have to have been recent to be detected, it is not a reliable testing method.
Urine Test: This is the most popular option as far as drug testing goes, especially in the workplace. Employees are required to give a sample of their urine. This is typically carried out at a separate facility and then sent to a laboratory for testing. However, on site testing is becoming an increasingly popular option, as it allows employers to receive the results at the workplace. It is also a more cost efficient choice, especially if regular testing is required.
Saliva Test: Saliva tests are also very common. A swab is rubbed on the inside cheek of the employee in order to collect a sample of their saliva. The only drawback to this method is that it only detects recent use. This can be a great option for critical situations, but not as an ongoing testing method. The results to this test are instant, which can be extremely useful for residential programs which require abstinence.
Hair Test: Hair testing is a very accurate way to test and a great long term option. It is non-invasive and allows the employer to check for a multitude of drugs, as well as alcohol, and is cost effective. Hair tests can detect substances that have been in the system for a longer time period than urine or saliva tests.
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