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Drug Testing in the Workplace: Complete 2021 Guide

By on 2021-09-09 09:00:55, 0 Comments

Pre-employment drug testing

Typically, entrepreneurs want to hire and work with the best people possible – preferably experts and specialists in their fields. After all, being a business owner doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a master of all trades. Leveraging resources and delegating tasks are key skills any entrepreneur must possess.

Hiring candidates that are the best fit for the jobs you need, however, could be challenging. And since solely checking out resumes and certificates won’t grant you the guarantees you’re seeking, it’s vital to conduct additional screening processes – from panel interviews to background checks to drug and alcohol testing. Pre-employment lab drug testing for applicants and even periodical workplace drug testing for tenured employees could significantly promote safety and productivity at work. Learn why in this in-depth Drug Testing in the Workplace: Complete 2021 Guide we’ve prepared.


Importance of Pre-Employment Drug Testing

Whether you’re running a start-up or a well-established business, workplace drug testing is a wise move and smart strategy. Employee drug testing is one excellent way of protecting business and promoting productivity. While it’s an additional cost on the employer’s end, workplace drug testing can efficiently prevent potential liability issues, helping them reduce costs in the long run.

We all know the horrible effects of drug abuse. This is why if you’re an employer and wish to keep all business processes and transactions at an optimum professional level, pre-employment drug and alcohol screening, post-accident workplace drug testing, and/or random drug testing at work can go a long way.

Also, there are industries where, for obvious reasons, someone can’t be hired if they have a history of drug use. Transportation companies or hospitals, for instance, should include regular workplace drug testing or screening to avoid accidents and legal liabilities.

Here are some other reasons why workplace drug testing is important.

  • Workplace Safety

Drugs, when abused, have adverse effects on the user’s mental health and physical behaviors. In drug-free work environments, injuries, accidents, fights, and public scandals are less likely to occur. You could also prevent your employees from hurting or harming one another.

  • Duties and Responsibilities

Employees under the influence of drugs may struggle to focus, affecting their judgments and performances. Drugs could prevent them from fulfilling their duties and responsibilities, and if they somehow manage to accomplish assigned tasks, the expected quality isn’t typically met.

  • Company Standards

Each business has its mission and/or vision and to effectively deliver, the head of the company needs the cooperation of its staff. Workplace drug testing could help ensure every employee is sound of mind, sharing the same mission and/or vision as you.

  • Brand Reputation

Each employee – regardless of the position – is a reflection of the company in general. The behaviors of your people can significantly affect and easily destroy your brand’s reputation you’ve worked so hard to establish.


The Most Common Drug Tests When Applying for a Job

Drug test types for checking by employers

Workplace drug testing is conducted for varying reasons. It could be to comply with the company’s annual physical tests policy, to adhere to post-accident and post-treatment tests, or to confirm for-cause and reasonable suspicions. Most alcohol and drug tests, however, are initiated for pre-employment drug testing/screening.

Standard drug testing is commonly used to identify if an employee is currently under the influence or has previously abused any of these drug categories.

  1. Amphetamines (including Methamphetamines)
  2. Cocaine
  3. Marijuana/THC
  4. Opiates
  5. Phencyclidine (PCP)

Some more thorough laboratory drug tests might also be utilized to identify the abuse of other drug categories, including Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, Ethanol (alcohol), Hydrocodone, MDMA, Methadone, Methaqualone, or Propoxyphene.

The most common drug test for employment typically requires urine sample collection only. However, there are different types of drug tests depending on the end-goal of workplace drug testing.

  • Blood Screens

This is performed by a licensed phlebotomist where sample blood is drawn and sent to a lab for testing. Results reveal more detailed information about the levels and types of drugs in a person’s blood at the time of the test. This is rarely used though as it’s a bit more expensive and some find it too invasive.

  • Breath Tests

Using a breathalyzer machine, the tester can check the concentration of substance taken and the level of intoxication. This is typically utilized for suspected alcohol use though as it can’t accurately detect drug abuse.

  • Hair Tests

A professional lab technician collects at least a hundred strands of hair – cutting close to the scalp. This type of testing has one of the longest detection spans as it can confirm drug use from up to three months before the testing date. This isn’t effective for alcohol use though.

  • Saliva Tests

The saliva test is the least time-consuming type of drug testing for employment. It’s easy to collect and it’s less expensive as well. This could, however, only detect recent use (a few hours up to three days from the date of sample collection).

  • Urine Tests

Urine tests are the most common type of workplace drug testing. Utilizing a urine sample from the applicant or employee, the employer can confirm if they’ve recently used drugs. If the initial screen indicates the presence of a drug, the sample will be sent to the lab for a more thorough drug screening.


Pros of Drug Testing in the Workplace

Pre-employment drug testing and regular workplace drug testing can, indeed, go a long way in ensuring a safer and healthier work environment for your people, your company’s best assets. This is why it’s highly recommended to initiate at least a standard drug testing at work.

Workplace drug testing can help employers prevent bigger issues like internal conflicts, performance deficiencies, misuse of facilities, or worse, destruction of the brand’s reputation. A single drug test for employment or a standard workplace drug testing can significantly make or break your company’s success.

To better appreciate the importance of workplace drug testing, here are some of the common pros of conducting regular drug and alcohol testing.

  • Safer Environment – Workplace drug testing ensures only people who aren’t abusing illicit substances get to work for the company, creating a safer and healthier workspace for everyone.
  • Improved Productivity – Workers who aren’t under the influence of drugs can think clearer and more logically, enabling them to finish assigned tasks and meet deadlines. Having employees at the optimum condition – mentally and physically – can result in higher productivity.
  • High-Quality Outputs – It appears employees who use drugs or drink alcohol have higher absenteeism rates, affecting the quality of their performances and outputs. Drugs tend to blur the user’s judgment and thought process, compromising the results of the things they do – at work or in their personal lives.
  • Mitigated Risks – Workplace drug testing can help employers mitigate risks in the workplace, avoiding liability issues like lawsuits.
  • Higher Profits – Certain studies prove a drug-free environment reduces employee turnover, helping employers save time and money in the long run. Also, by hiring non-drug-abusive employees, you’re ensuring higher productivity and higher quality outputs which in turn could mean higher profits.
  • Better Image – Overall, eradicating drug abuse at the workplace could significantly contribute to your brand’s image. It’s basically a domino effect. Non-drug-abusive employees means better products/services which means better profits and transactions which mean better reputation.


Cons of Drug Testing in the Workplace

Advantages and Disadvantages of Workplace Drug Screening

While workplace drug testing is proven to be an effective business strategy offering a long list of benefits, it also has its fair share of disadvantages. Here are some cons of drug testing in the workplace.

  • Additional Company Expenses – Workplace drug testing is yet another addition to your company’s already long list of expenses. In most jurisdictions, the employer has to, of course, shoulder the costs.
  • Intricate and Sensitive Process – Drug tests for jobs involve intricate and sensitive processes. First, you have to be strategic about who must be tested and when should the test be initiated. Then you have to know for sure what substances you want your employees to test for. Lastly, ensure only professionals and licensed experts conduct the test to ensure accuracy.
  • False Positive – There are loopholes in drug testing – certain inaccuracies that are often unavoidable. False-positive results could be a disadvantage especially if this could lead to not hiring or firing a competitive, responsible, professional employee.
  • Data Handling – Like any other data, drug test results are sensitive and confidential. Hence, employers must be extra careful in processing and storing such information. This might require you to invest in highly secure physical or cloud storage.
  • Legal Ramifications – Above all, since drug testing isn’t just a minor internal business management strategy, various state and federal laws have been put in place to regulate this – protecting the rights of both the employer and employee. So when not properly handled, drug testing employees could lead to legal ramifications or defamation of lawsuits.



Workplace drug testing is designed to detect the presence of illicit and certain prescription drugs. This is a process utilized by several entrepreneurs to somehow create and maintain a safe and healthy environment for their people. In fact, most counties recommend – if not require – employee and employer drug testing.

Drug testing is typically a deterrent method that’s a part of a more comprehensive drug-free workspace program. Nevertheless, employee drug screening must always be handled with extreme caution. Like any other medical information, the data from drug tests must be automatically treated as private and confidential. Hence, be sensitive and professional as not to offend anyone or intrude on their privacy.

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