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Promoting Productivity and Employee Safety: Drug Testing in the Workplace

drug testing in the workplace

More than 28 million people in the U.S have used an illegal drug in the past 30 days. Alcohol, while not illegal, kills 88,000 people every year. The implications for employers in this country are significant, from increased health care costs for employees to on-the-job injuries.

Statistics like these help to explain why 57 percent of employers in the U.S. conduct drug tests on all job candidates.

Drug testing in the workplace can help prevent injuries and increase productivity among employees.

What Do Drug Tests Detect?

The standard five-panel drug test will detect even small amounts of marijuana, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), cocaine and opiates. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now recommends that employers consider using more sophisticated tests that can detect prescription painkillers like hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and oxycodone. These tests can also pick up antidepressants, methamphetamine, methadone, barbiturates, synthetic cannabinoids, and bath salts.

Types of Drug Tests

The most common drug tests are urine, hair, blood, sweat, and saliva. These tests all pick up the presence of drugs in the person’s system. The amount the tests detect depends on the type of test and how recently the substance was ingested.

For example, urine testing can detect alcohol in a person’s system for about two days after the last drink. Hair testing can go back further, sometimes as far back as four months

Another type of test called EtG testing checks for alcohol specifically. EtG testing can be run on blood, hair, and urine, but urine is the most common. 

Fingernail drug testing is also effective, although not as widely used. 

When a person uses drugs, the substance accumulates in places like the hair and fingernails. In many cases, fingernail testing is more effective than hair sampling, because fingernails are thicker. It can also detect drug use over a longer period of time, as much as eight months prior to the test.

Drug Testing in the Workplace = A Safer Workplace

Overdoses from the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol on the job increased 32 percent from 2015 to 2017. Overdose fatalities have increased by at least 25 percent every year since 2012. Drug testing of employees is demonstrably effective at reducing numbers like those.

In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) found significant improvements in workplace productivity and employee safety after they implemented drug testing.

For example, 19 percent of employers reported an improvement in productivity. The study shows 6 percent of employers saw a 50 percent decrease in workers’ compensation claims. Another 16 percent reported a decrease in employee turnover rates after they started a drug testing program.

Wrapping It Up

At the center of most employers’ drug testing program is the desire to keep their employees safe. Drug testing in the workplace can keep employees from using drugs before and during work, and it can catch drug use before a job candidate is hired.

If drug use is detected, it can help an employer assist an employee with a referral to drug treatment or other support services.

ReliaLab Test can help you with pre-employment drug test ordering and results. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have. We’re here to help.

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