Employer Questions Regarding Drug Testing?

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By Joe Reilly

We get lots of questions all the time from employers regarding drug testing and drug free workplace programs. This blog post will discuss some of the most common questions on testing employees for drugs.

What is most important for an employer to consider for drug testing employees?

Most importantly employers should set up a drug-free workplace policy. This written policy is the foundation of your drug testing and drug free workplace and outlines the who, what, where when and how of your drug testing program. To avoid liability and to be sure your company is not making decisions that would be harmful to the organization, the written drug free workplace policy is critical. Learn more about drug free workplace policies.

Besides the policy, what are other important considerations to think about when deciding on making a workplace drug free?

Education and training are important components. It is important to educate all employees to be prepared for the implementation of the drug-free workplace policy and program. Employees should be aware of the harmful effects of drug and alcohol use in the workplace and how substance abuse can take a toll on the workforce.

Supervisor training is another important component. Supervisors need to be able to make determinations of possible impairment in the workplace. Supervisors must be able to decide if reasonable suspicion testing is necessary. It is all about safety and doing everything possible to avoid accidents in the workplace. Supervisors need to be trained to make these important decisions.

What drugs should the employer test for?

For Department of Transportation (DOT) regulated employers, the answer is simple, and the required test is the 5 Panel DOT Panel: Amphetamine/Methamphetamine, Opiates (Codeine, Morphine, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone, and Oxymorphone) Marijuana (THC), Cocaine, and Phencyclidine (PCP).

For all other employers, often called non-DOT companies, the same drug test panel can be used or often a 10 panel is preferred. The 10 panel includes the above 5 drugs plus Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax), Barbiturates, Methadone, Propoxyphene, Methaqualone (Quaaludes). Currently we are seeing Fentanyl to be added to either of the above Non-DOT Testing. Check out our Fentanyl testing options. Fentanyl testing is available with urine or hair samples.

Can employers test for drug with hair specimens?

We are seeing employers testing for drug with hair specimens. Some DOT regulated companies are adding a hair drug test after the required DOT 5 Panel test with urine. This hair drug test is a non-DOT test. We are also seeing Non-Regulated employers considering hair testing. Various hair testing panels can be ordered online. These hair testing panels include a 5 Panel Hair Drug Test, 7 panel, 9 panel, 12 panel 14 panel and 17 panel. Drugs that can be tested with a hair specimen include Amphetamines, Methamphetamines, Cocaine, Marijuana, Opiates, Synthetic Expanded Opiates (Hydrocodone, Oxycodone), Fentanyl, Tramadol, Buprenorphine, PCP, Benzodiazepines, Barbiturates, Methadone, Propoxyphene, Meperidine, Ketamine, and Zolpidem (Ambien).

Can employers test for marijuana (THC)?

Employers can test for marijuana. There are some restrictions in some States and cities. It is important to review our State by State Guide to Workplace Marijuana Laws. Particular states to be concerned with are New York, California, Washington, Nevada and Minnesota.

Can employers stop testing for marijuana?

Other than for DOT regulated drug testing, eliminating marijuana from the drug testing panel is an option. Employees should always be educated as to what drugs the company is testing for and what are the consequences for a positive drug or alcohol test. Business leaders must make decisions about marijuana in the workplace. To help with these decisions the National Drug Screening (NDS) website has a comprehensive section on Marijuana in the Workplace.

So above are the most common questions we have been receiving regarding drug testing and drug free workplace programs. Our team of expert drug testing specialist can assist at any time with additional questions or to start your drug testing program. The NDS website has a comprehensive section on Workplace Drug Testing Programs & Services, employers are encouraged to take advantage of this resource.

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