No substance abuse effort is really effective without some form of drug testing. A fair, well-executed program prevents substance abuse and greatly improves workplace safety and productivity. Testing is more cost-effective: it is humanitarian. By actively encouraging employees who abuse alcohol or drugs to get help, a testing program can save jobs, marriages - and lives.
There are several types of tests that can be given, and several occasions when they might be called for:
- Pre-Employment Testing
- Reasonable Suspicion Testing
- Post-Accident Testing
- Random Testing
- Return-to-Duty and Follow-Up Testing
- Periodic Testing
Drug Testing MethodologiesMost drug testing methods involve analyzing urine specimens. This process is known as urinalysis. Test results are reported as "positive" or "negative" for illicit drugs. A positive test means the drug has been used in the recent past, usually a period of days. Urinalysis tests cannot determine if a particular individual is "impaired" by the drug level found or when an employee last used a drug.
"Impaired" in this context is a legal term: Having a level of drugs or alcohol during testing that is higher than a prescribed "cut-off" limit (or level).
Process of Collecting Specimen
The urine specimen is given at a collection site, which is usually a clinic or doctor's office. We have established relationships with extensive collection site facilities.
At the collection site, an employee usually provides the specimen in private. A person who is trained in the collection process seals and labels the specimen, then prepares both the specimen and its accompanying paperwork for shipment to a drug testing laboratory. Each step of the process is documented on a "chain of custody" form. The collection and chain of custody procedures ensure the specimen is properly identified and tracked throughout the testing process.
For companies that have to comply with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, there is an additional step. The urine sample must be split in two and put into primary and secondary specimen bottles. This procedure is referred to as a "split specimen" procedure.
In a split specimen procedure, both bottles are sent to the laboratory, but only the primary specimen is opened and used for the initial screening and confirmatory tests. The secondary specimen bottle remains sealed and stored at the laboratory.
If the confirmation test on the primary specimen is positive, the employee has 72 hours to request that the split specimen be sent to another certified laboratory for analysis. The split specimen procedure essentially gives employees an opportunity for a "second opinion" if their drug tests come out positive.