More than 67% of all people with drug problems in the United States are employed either full-time or part-time. So, it’s a given that workers with drug problems can be found in a workplace across all industry sectors.

Without a workplace drug testing program in place, companies can face challenges such as on-the-job accidents, increased absenteeism, low productivity, high turnover rates, etc.

A drug testing policy, drafted by the HR department, is the first step towards achieving a drug-free workplace. Here in this post, we are sharing a compilation of the top nine workplace drug testing tips for company HRs.

1. Know Who to Test and When

Workplace drug testing is conducted on different occasions for different reasons.

For instance, pre-employment drug testing is conducted to weed out applicants with drug problems. Random drug testing helps discourage workplace drug abuse by testing a random selection from the existing workforce. Incident-based drug testing is carried out after an accident in the workplace.

Most companies administer both pre-employment and random drug testing to prevent hiring drug abusers and deter existing employees from abusing drugs.

When drafting a drug testing policy, the HR leadership should be clear on who is to be drug tested and when.

2. Choose a Drug Testing Method that Best Suits Your Needs

You can choose from various drug testing methods based on the testing of different specimens such as hair, urine, mouth swab, blood, sweat, etc. These drug testing methods vary in their invasiveness, unit cost, the authenticity of results and detection window. You need to match the drug test to your specific needs.

3. Screen Employees for Commonly-Detected Substances

While some companies will simply follow the federal drug testing programs, others may want to consider regional patterns of substance abuse, nature of the job, and worker demographics to know which drugs you should actually be testing for. Just as a rapid COVID-19 detection kit would detect the presence of the novel Coronavirus, workplace drug testing kits are designed to detect the presence of different substances such as cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, marijuana, etc.

4. Determine the Drug Detection Window

You need to decide if your company is going to screen applicants or employees for very recent drug use or identify long term patterns of repetitive drug use.

Detection windows vary significantly for different drug test types. For example, amphetamines can be detected for 2-4 days in a urine specimen; a hair follicle test, on the other hand, can detect amphetamine use for up to 90 days.

For more comprehensive workplace drug testing, a combination of different drug testing methods can be used.

5. Decide on Who Collects the Test Specimen

Test specimens can be collected at the job site or by a trained professional at a certified laboratory, equipped with necessary testing supplies. Specimen analysis, too, may be carried out at either of the two locations. A drug testing policy should be clear about where and how specimens are to be collected.

6. Update Your Drug Testing Policy

Update your workplace drug testing policy to factor in changes in federal/state laws and regional drug abuse patterns. For example, if there are any changes in state law concerning marijuana use in locations where you have offices or factories, your drug testing policy should be updated right away. Also, if your company opens a new office or begins operations in a different state, it is important to make sure that your policy is compliant with applicable state laws. Drug testing laws vary across the states.

7. Train Your Supervisors on a Regular Basis

Supervisors should be trained on how to recognize early warning signs of drug abuse by a worker. They should know how to document performance-related issues, behavioral signs, and employee statements concerning drug abuse in the workplace.

The training should also cover information on –

  • How to motivate workers to stay clear of substance abuse
  • How to refer a worker to get help
  • Health insurance coverage plans for treatment of drug addiction
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP), if any
  • Most recent changes in the drug testing policy

8. Be Open about Why Your Company Conducts Drug Testing

HR managers should inform potential hires in advance that they would need to undergo compulsory pre-employment drug testing. Most companies inform job applicants in writing about drug testing policies that mandate:

  • A conditional offer of employment is made to a candidate subject to him or her passing a pre-employment drug test
  • Hired candidates will undergo periodic or random drug testing during the course of their employment

9. Be Clear on Consequences that Will Follow if a Worker Tests Positive

There should be complete clarity on what happens if an employee tests positive in a drug test. Whether an employee is to be a given a second chance and enrolled in an EAP or terminated from the job at once, should be mentioned clearly in a drug testing policy. The policy should be enforced on all employees without any bias.

Leon Reingold is the Editor-in-Chief at Drugtestsinbulk, a nationwide supplier of drug and alcohol testing products online.

Drug testing stock photo by cozyta/Shutterstock