This Is What You Need to Know About Employment Drug Testing

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Did you know that there are only 1.47% of job postings in the U.S. that mention drug tests are a requirement before starting employment?

Even fewer job postings (0.66%) mention regular drug testing at work. It depends on the industry and what the work entails as to whether employees need to take drug tests.

Keep reading to learn more about employment drug testing, including why employers ask for drug tests and what they’re testing for.

Pre-Employment Drug Screening

Some businesses include it as a requirement for their application process that employees are tested for drugs and alcohol use. The company policy and state law may dictate whether or not it is necessary for an employee to provide a drug screening before a job offer is made. 

Employers can use a magnitude of drug and alcohol tests on their employees, both before employment and during employment. Tests such as urine drug tests, blood drug tests, breath alcohol tests, saliva drug screens, and many others, can detect if drugs or alcohol are present in a person.

Employee drug testing can be quite common among industries first recruiting staff for these roles:

  • Aerospace & Defense
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Education & Schools
  • Government
  • Health Care & Hospitals
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Private Security
  • Transportation & Logistics

However, not all roles in these industries, and not all businesses will ask for a drug test. While the industries most likely to need regular drug tests completed by employees include:

  • Automotive
  • Biotech & Pharmaceuticals
  • Government
  • Health Care & Hospitals
  • Information Technology
  • Insurance
  • Manufacturing
  • Non-Profit
  • Real Estate
  • Transportation & Logistics

You might be wondering why drug tests need to be done at workplaces? Well, some of these industries require employees to be sober at all times, so they can make better decisions. As you can see, some of these roles might not only put the employee at risk if they’re on drugs but also members of the public.

So, employee drug screening is important for the health and safety of everyone. 

What Do Pre-Employment Drug Tests Look for?

Pre-employment drug tests can look for a range of different substances. Most employers use a 5-panel or a 10-panel drug test. 

5-panel drug tests are looking for these five substances:

  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamines
  • Marijuana (THC)
  • PCP
  • Codeine, heroin, morphine, and other opiates.

Potential employees who aren’t taking any of those substances should pass with flying colors. Medical marijuana might not be detected if it has had the THC removed. The 5-panel test might also be able to detect prescription medications.

While the 10-panel drug test is looking for these 10 substances:

  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamines
  • Marijuana
  • PCP
  • Opiates
  • Cocaine
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Methadone
  • Propoxyphene

The 10-panel tests might be able to detect some weight-loss drugs and prescription medications, such as Valium or Ativan. However, if you can support your test with medical records, your employer shouldn’t be concerned. 

What Is the Most Common Drug Test for Employment?

The most common drug test for employment is cannabis, followed by cocaine. Alcohol tests are also quite common in workplaces.

The most popular drug testing specimen types used by employers are urine, blood, saliva, and hair. Urine is the most common and is mandated for regulated tests, such as the ones conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

Have a look at this DOT physical medical examination, if you’re in the automotive industry and want to find out more about DOT and the DOT Exams near me.

Urine tests, although commonly used in industries, have a smaller window of drug detection. Substances can only be detected in urine for five to 10 days. Whereas, other types of testing, such as hair drug tests, can detect drugs for up to 90 days.

Unfortunately, hair drug tests are more costly. Similarly, blood tests are also more accurate in detecting drugs and alcohol, but more costly and invasive.

Saliva testing can also be conducted, but this has a shorter window than urine samples. Saliva testing can detect drugs in the system between 7 to 21 hours.

Are Drug Tests in the Workplace Legal?

Most private employers can ask potential employees for a drug test before starting their employment. If they pass the test, the potential employee will be offered the role. 

Prospective employees can decline a drug screening, however, this often results in them losing the job offer.

The U.S. Consitution doesn’t protect employees in the private-sector from drug tests, that some find invasive of privacy. However, some states in the U.S. have laws that limit an employers’ right to obtain a drug test from a prospective employee.

While in employment, an employer may ask existing employees for a drug screening. Many state laws require the employer to have a reason for the drug tests.

For example, a valid reason for a drug screening would be if the employer suspected an employee was using drugs at work or under the influence of drugs. Another reason might be if the employee has been enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program. 

In certain professions and industries, it is a state and federal law that employees are tested for drugs. Pilots who fly airlines and employees who operate heavy machinery need to conduct regular drug tests.

Conduct Employment Drug Testing for a Safer Work Environment

If you’re an employer considering whether or not to perform employment drug testing on your employees then this article should help you see that it’s a good idea. Employment drug tests help to keep your employees and members of the public safe. 

If you’re an employee who has been asked to perform a drug test, then this article should put your mind at ease. Drug testing in employment is normal and legal. If your employer asks you to perform a drug test, it’s best to obey and get tested.

If you found this article informative, make sure you check out some of our other insightful articles.

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