Questions About Drug Testing for Employment

We get lots of questions from employers regarding drug testing and drug free workplace programs. This blog post will discuss some of the most common questions about drug testing for employment.

What is the most important step for an employer to take when implementing a policy about drug testing for employment?

All employers should set up a clearly defined drug free workplace policy. This written policy is the foundation of your drug testing and drug free workplace. It 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.

What are other important factors to consider when making a workplace drug free?

Education and training are important components of a drug free work place. It is important to educate employees to be prepared for the implementation of a drug-free workplace policy and the ongoing requirements of drug testing for employment. 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 their work place.

Supervisor training is another important component. They need to be able to make determinations of possible impairment in the workplace and 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. All supervisory personnel 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. 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 other employers, often called non-DOT companies, the same drug test panel can be used or use a 10 panel test. The 10 panel test includes the above 5 drugs plus benzodiazepines (such as Xanax), barbiturates, methadone, propoxyphene, and methaqualone (Quaaludes). Recently, we are seeing fentanyl testing added to either of the above non-DOT screening panels. Check out our Fentanyl testing options. Fentanyl testing is available with urine or hair samples.

Can employers test for drugs with hair specimens?

Many employers use hair specimens when drug testing for employment. 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 for employment, eliminating marijuana from the drug testing panel is an option. Employees should be educated about 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.

Additional Resources About Employer Drug Testing

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

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