Drug testing in the workplace ensures that employees are deterred from substance abuse and stay sober-minded. Employers should ensure that if they incorporate a random drug testing program, they follow specific regulations. What goes into this program, and how often should employers conduct it? Let’s explore the random drug test more deeply.

What is a Drug Test?

A drug test is a screening process using bodily samples to identify if an individual has been using substances. Drug tests commonly test for: amphetamines, cocaine, PCP, THC, and opiates. Federally regulated entities, such as transportation or military contracting, are obligated to conduct random drug testing on their employees.

Although drug tests are not federally mandated, state and local laws do govern regulations for such programs. Non-regulated employers can make this choice based on company policy. 

Drug tests are conducted by collecting urine, blood, hair, saliva, or sweat samples. Samples are then tested in a state-licensed facility. Negative results will be returned to the employer within 24 to 72 hours.

Most employers opt for a urine test. Oral fluid tests may be used as well. Any test that shows a positive result will be confirmed by a Medical Review Officer. They will then inform the employee and employer as well. The employee can be released from employment or be directed to attend substance abuse counseling if they test positive. 

Why Implement a Random Drug Testing Program?

The top reasons to implement random drug testing include the following:

  • Reduces the accident and/or injury amounts
  • Deters alcohol or drug abuse
  • Protects workplace safety
  • Under federal law, this is required for DOT-regulated employers, federal contractors, and the military
  • Fosters a positive and productive work environment
  • Reduces losses
  • Reduces liability risks
  • Reduces sick days used
  • Reduces turnover 

Take note that some states do not allow random drug testing, or there are limitations as to how often they can be implemented. Also, see how each state can treat positive marijuana results given recent law changes. For example, Pennsylvania private employers prohibit them from taking adverse actions against positive marijuana results. 

How to Implement This Program and How Often

The steps to take to implement this program are to first review state and federal laws. Then, companies must complete the following:

  • Draft a drug test policy
  • Notify employees
  • Determine the percentage to be tested
  • Set measures to ensure the selection process is random.
  • Do not choose a testing site that is not reputable or experienced in this field. 

A random drug test is completed by using computerized random number generators to select a percentage of employees to test. These tests should be conducted once each quarter. Drug tests must be submitted within a short window. Each test needs to fit the employer’s needs, such as only testing safety-sensitive positions. 

Lastly, document everything. Document the drug testing process, how employees were selected to participate, how employees were notified of the test, test completion, and confirmation of positive results.

What is a 10 Panel Drug Test?

However, when referencing a drug test, the “panel” is the drug being tested. A 5-panel drug test is looking for 5 drugs while a 6-panel is looking for 6. 

Generally, most agencies use a 5-panel test. This is the standard for the government’s guidelines for workplace testing. It tests for cocaine, amphetamines/methamphetamine, THC, PCP, and opiates. These are the most used and abused drugs. 

The 10 panel drug test is frequently given to law enforcement and occupational medicine employees. It is also used to examine whether an individual is breaching their probation. This test looks for cocaine, marijuana, PCP, amphetamines, opiates, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, methadone, propoxyphene, and Quaaludes.  

We Would Love to Help You!

Above all, the mission at Soteria Screening Laboratories is to ensure employers can create drug-free workspaces. This team prioritizes helping businesses with successful drug screening programs. Contact Soteria today to learn about the services offered, or if you’d like to learn more about random drug testing.

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