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Mobile Drug Testing for Staff

Drug abuse in the US is rampant - the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) reveals that 19.4 percent of Americans have used illicit drugs at least once. The trend has led to American mobile drug testing to prevent and protect organizations from drug exposure. Also, there is a demand for relevant info, because Google queries like "free drug test clinic" and "fast detox" are extremely popular.

Many companies embrace drug testing for staff to protect the employees and themselves. Organizations must know their employees' drug use status at the point of recruitment and during their tenure at the company. Such knowledge enables the employer to make decisions on retaining the employee.

An employee who uses drugs puts other employees at risk and the company. Behavior associated with drug abuse includes aggression, irritability, mood swings, outbursts, paranoia, etc. Such behavior can lead to the person harming other people in the work environment. There are also liabilities associated with companies that harbor employees with drug problems.

Particular laws hold the company liable for the destructive behavior of employees under the influence of drugs. Therefore, it is in the company's interest to always know that its workforce is 100 percent drug-free to avoid penalties and lawsuits. Mobile drug testing for staff is a regular procedure for many organizations that have incorporated the practice into their routine operations.

The organizations embracing the practice reap several benefits and have adopted various testing procedures to suit their operations. There are specific procedures involved in the exercise to ensure it is beyond reproach. The companies use credible providers for the service to enhance the effectiveness of the undertaking.

Benefits of Employer Drug Testing

There are several benefits associated with employer drug testing. A popular misconception is that organizations test their staff because they do not trust them. However, there is more value to the testing program beneficial for both employers and employees. The most critical aspect is that organizations must know the drug use status of their staff.

The compelling reasons organizations test for drugs include – complying with statutory regulations, enhancing employee productivity, improving staff wellness, increasing safety in the workplace, and reducing health costs.

Compliance with Statutory Regulations

No company wants to deal with non-compliance with regulatory requirements. Exposure of a company to any law breaches means the risk of penalties and liabilities associated with lawsuits. There are specific US laws requiring organizations to ensure a drug-free environment for the employees. Some federal regulations legally compel particular employers to take action against drug abuse in the workplace.

There is also the right of other employees to work in a safe environment. It is the employer's responsibility to protect all staff from the risk of an unsafe work environment. Having an employee who abuses drugs is a health and safety risk for other employees, exposing the company to legal breaches.

Enhancing Employee Productivity

Drug abuse impairs the brain's ability to focus and think clearly. Lacking clarity in the thought process interferes with the employee's ability to perform their tasks. It is only a matter of time before the behavior impacts the employee productivity at work. Unfortunately, without a routine drug screening exercise, it may take the organization time to realize the root cause of the problem.

One employee's unproductivity affects the rest of the staff, especially in an operational process where activities are interlinked. If the situation lingers for long periods, the company can experience massive losses due to the inefficiencies resulting from lost time. Drug testing for staff is a way of preventing loss of productivity resulting from drug abuse.

Improving Staff Wellbeing

Drug testing can be a way of enhancing the well-being of employees. Most drug abuse situations have underlying root causes. Early detection of drug abuse in staff provides an opportunity to offer assistance to the victim before they experience the devastating effects of the habit. An organization can provide assistance programs to give their people another chance to retain their jobs if they overcome the behavior.

The assistance programs typically involve admitting the victims to rehabilitation centers where they detox and access counseling sessions. If the employer gets convinced that the staff has recovered from the drug addiction and is ready to turn around their life, they get back their job.

Increasing Security in the Workplace

Safety and security in the workplace come in several forms, i.e., physical and mental security. An organization with one or more employees with a drug problem subjects the rest of the staff to a security risk. The risk may be physical because drug abusers have violent tendencies in extreme cases.

The abusers can also subject other staff to non-physical abuse like verbal altercations, confrontations, bullying, etc. When such people are in positions of power, the office environment becomes unbearable for staff working under them. Drug testing identifies the drug abusers and removes them from the office environment to enhance safety and security in the workplace.

Reducing Health Costs

There are particular health conditions associated with people who abuse drugs. Such ailments include – lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, cancer, hepatitis, mental disorders, etc. Some of the conditions are fatal and need massive medical bills to manage. Undetected drug abuse among staff may cause a surge in medical care bills of staff.

Identifying drug abuse cases at early stages can save an organization from potential liabilities associated with opportunistic illnesses. People abusing drugs may be also prone to aggressive behavior that exposes them to numerous accidents requiring emergency medical attention. Such incidences increase the medical bills of the company.

Types of Mobile Drug Testing Services

Mobile drug testing (MDT) is a rapid process that detects illegal drugs in the body. The process reveals the presence of cocaine, marijuana, cannabis, and methamphetamine in the body. The MDT testing produces fast results and is popularly used on roadblocks and a post-accident check to ascertain the culprits of drug abuse. The USA mobile drug testing has increased the efficiency of the police in identifying drivers abusing drugs in America.

An MDT typically involves wiping a test stick down the tongue for a saliva sample. In less than ten minutes, the device reveals the presence of any drug in the system. If the result is positive, one can undergo other rigorous drug tests, i.e., oral fluid test, blood, urine, hair, or sweat test. The different tests reveal the drug use over some time.

Oral Fluid Drug Test

The oral fluid test is a saliva drug test used to detect the concentration of drugs in the body. It is a popular test method used to detect the usage of drugs from one to several days. The lab technician does a mouth swab drug test. The results reveal the extent of usage of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and PCP over time. The detection time of various drug usage varies. For example, heroin is detectible after about an hour of use, and others like methadone may not reveal up until about ten days.

Blood Drug Test

Blood tests are popular in companies requiring pre-employment drug testing. The tests detect compounds found in various types of drugs in the bloodstream. Some organizations also use the tests for routine screening of employees for drug usage.

The process involves collecting a sample of blood intravenously using a syringe. A lab technician tests the specimen for the detection of substance abuse. The method can detect drugs used up to 12 hours before the test time. The procedure takes about three days to reveal the results.

Urine Drug Test

A urine drug test is favorable because of its accuracy with a wide-window detection period. The method can detect drug usage for up to 30 days. The test is done by collecting a urine sample and subjecting it to a lab test. The procedure detects the presence of substances that would manifest after the body breaks down the drug used over a while.

The testing can detect cannabis, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines in the body. There are instances where a user can compromise urine drug testing by swapping specimens. If there is a likelihood of such a scenario, collect the sample under supervision.

Hair Drug Test

The hair drug test establishes drug abuse over a longer duration – up to 12 months. The method involves collecting strands of body hair, e.g., face, head, armpit, etc., and testing in a lab. The results reveal the presence of cocaine, opioids, MDMA, phencyclidine (PCP), and amphetamines in the body.

However, the hair drug test will reveal how long the person has used the drugs, but not the quantities. Hence, it is challenging to determine the severity of the drug problem in the individual.

Sweat Test

The sweat test is another method of detecting drug use. Like the hair drug test, it reveals drug usage over a long period. The procedure detects the presence of cocaine metabolites, opiates, cannabis, and amphetamines in the body system. The testing is preferable when there is a risk of tampering associated with other methods like urine drug testing.

The specimen collection is through an absorbent pad placed on the skin to absorb the sweat and taken to the lab for testing. A disadvantage of the method is that the concentration of the drug substances is less than in other drug-testing procedures.

Procedures for Drug Testing

There are specific procedures that need to be in place when undertaking drug tests for staff. Organizations that drug test employees typically need a seamless process that produces results accurately and efficiently. There are pitfalls of false-negative & false-positive tests that are avoidable if the procedure is effective.

A false-positive result means the tests show the presence of drugs that the person has not used. If there is a false positive, there is likely to be a faulty procedure in specimen collection, lab handling, or other steps in the approach. Consuming specific legal substances can also lead to a false positive.

A false negative means the results show no presence of drugs while the person is abusing drugs. In such a case, the likely explanation is that the method used for the test is unable to detect recent drug usage. For the efficacy of the tests, it is essential to have a step-by-step procedure the company follows every time there is a testing exercise. The steps involve:

  1. Document the justification for drug tests 
  2. Establish sampling tests 
  3. Define testing methods
  4. Vary the testing methods for different functions 
  5. Document the testing process 
  6. Identify a professional service provider 

Step 1: Document the justification for drug tests

Before embarking on a routine of drug-testing staff, an organization must clarify why they are doing it. It may be for regulatory or health & safety requirements for the workplace. The law requires some sectors like transport for mobile staff to have a regular drug screening. Other sectors require a high level of safety because of the sensitivity of the operations, i.e., handling accident-prone equipment.

The documentation should be policies that provide the protocol for the tests. Such documents should be easily accessible by staff and well-known in the organization. Have a lawyer review the documents to ensure that they conform with existing regulations and do not infringe on employee rights.

Step 2: Establish sampling tests

Drug tests for employees do not necessarily need to cover all the staff every time. You can adapt a sampling process that randomly selects the staff for testing. However, ensure that there is no way any staff can know that it would be their turn for testing. Some categories of staff can have mandatory testing, e.g., the new staff, machine operators, etc.

The notification period for the testing should be short to avoid the staff manipulating the results. Drug users may swap specimens to prevent revealing their habits.

Step 3: Define testing methods

The company should determine the methods they would like to use for drug testing. Drug testing methods include saliva, urine, blood, hair, or sweat tests. To enhance the accuracy of the results, adapt multiple approaches that can detect different durations of use.

Have in mind the detection period of various drugs when selecting the testing methods. The table below by Medical News provides essential guidelines on the detection window period.

Drug Detection times after use
Alcohol 7–12 hours
Amphetamines 2–3 days
Short-acting benzodiazepines 3–5 days
Long-acting benzodiazepines up to 30 days
Buprenorphine up to 11 days
Cocaine metabolites 2–4 days
Codeine 1–2 days
Fentanyl 2–3 days
Heroin or morphine 1–3 days
Methadone 3–4 days
Oxycodone 1–3 days

Step 4: Vary the testing methods for different functions

The drug testing methods should differ according to unique characteristics of functions and industries. For example, employees regularly exposed to drugs are more susceptible to drug abuse. For such employees, it is necessary to have a method with a close detection window to establish drug abuse at the formative stages.

For pre-employment screening, it makes sense to have a drug test that detects usage over a lengthier period, e.g., a hair test. Such a test will help the organization determine if the new employee has a history of drug use and decide if they still want to hire them.

Step 5: Document the testing process

Documentation of the testing process is essential to maintain records on how the testing took place. The documentation is a quality control measure and a step for protecting the company in the event of litigation. There is a need for reassurance that all necessary procedures are adhered to in the drug testing.

The records protect the organization against any lawsuits that may result from an employee claiming an invasion of their rights. If a drug-free environment is a regulatory requirement, an auditor will need to see the compliance evidence.

Step 6: Identify a Professional Service Provider

A professional must do the drug testing. Having an expert increases the accuracy of the results and checks that the process is as non-intrusive as possible to the employees. The professionals can also advise on the most suitable methods for using depending on the desired results for the company.

It is beneficial for the organization to have a provider or two that they have contracted and can call on them to carry out the exercise within a reasonable notice period. Having on-site drug testing companies is a great option.

Mobile Drug Testing Businesses in the USA

There are several mobile drug testing companies in the US that organizations can use for their routine drug tests. Having specific providers for the service means the organization can plan reasonably within known timelines and have the firms available within short notice.

There are several advantages of contracting providers. The organization has an opportunity to conduct due diligence on the service providers to ascertain that they are qualified for the task. The contracted firms know beforehand when they are required to do the tests. The pre-planning ensures adherence to the testing routines of the organization.

The are several options of testing that mobile drug-testing companies in the US use. The types of services include random drug tests, post-accident, pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, and DOT drug testing.

Random Drug Tests

Random drug tests refer to having surprise drug tests for employees. The staff never know when the tests will take place and have to avail themselves within a short-notice period. Organizations use the element of surprise as a preventative and control measure. Employees are likely to keep away from drugs all the time because they never know when the testing will happen.

In case there are regular users of drugs, they are most likely to be identified through one of the testing methods. The employees have no opportunity of staying clean before scheduled testing time since they do not know the test dates.

Post-Accident Drug Tests

A post-accident drug test happens after an accident in the workplace. The tests establish if the accident cause is by people using drugs. Such tests are mandatory under law for companies operating under contract with or under the authority of the Department of Transportation (DOT).

It is also in the interest of the company testing to determine the liability of the accident. The assumption is that the incidence is either the company's negligence or the influence of drugs by a machine operator.

Pre-Employment Drug Tests

Pre-employment drug tests are part of the screening exercise during the recruitment process. Organizations may want to know of any drug usage history of a candidate before hiring them. As a pre-qualification procedure, the candidate will go through a drug-testing process.

People who abuse drugs have work inhibitions that employers like to avoid in the future. The testing process also affirms the company's stance on a drug-free environment. The recruits are less likely to indulge in drug-taking during their tenure.

Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing

Reasonable suspicion drug testing happens when employers suspect drug usage among particular employees. The staff may display behavior that renders them probable drug users, e.g., aggression, irritability, mood swings, outbursts, etc. The organization singles out such employees to undertake drug tests.

The identification and testing process should be done within the confines of existing drug policies to protect the organization from possible lawsuits. The employer should be aware that they risk litigation from the employee in case of wrongful accusation.

DOT Drug Testing

DOT Drug testing is mandatory and used on all employees carrying out roles regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT). A company risks penalties and deregistration if its workforce abuse drugs. Therefore, it is in the organization's interest to ensure that the employees affected by the rule are always drug-free.

The company must inform the employees of the regulation upon recruitment. Sustained engagements with employees to remain drug-free are necessary to maintain the status.

FAQs of Mobile Drug Testing

As mobile drug testing gains traction in many organizations, it becomes a subject of interest to many. There is constant information seeking on the drug subject and curiosity about the intricacies of the testing. Drug testing centers are adopting innovative approaches to enhance access to the service by organizations in the US.

Queries on drug testing mostly have to do with accessing the service and experiencing it. There is a thirst for knowledge on where, how, and when to access the service. Some of the frequently asked questions on mobile drug testing are as below.

  • How long do I have to wait for the results of a blood test?

Test results waiting time varies according to the type of test taken. Saliva testing results can be out in five minutes, maximum, while others like urine or hair test take longer – up to 48 hours. When ordering a test, always inquire about the waiting time for the test to estimate how long you will have before accessing the results.  
  • Are there free drug-test clinics in the US?

Many drug testing centers require one to pay to access their services. However, you can find some non-governmental organizations and charity institutions with a mandate of eradicating drug use that offers the services free of charge. You can do a web search to locate such institutions near you.  
  • How accurate is a drug test?

A drug test's accuracy is dependent on the credibility of the service provider carrying it out. The tests done by certified laboratories and technicians have high accuracy levels. Sometimes you can obtain false positives or false negatives because of testing too early after drug use or the presence of other legal substances detected in the specimen.  
  • Where can I go for drug screening?

The are many American screenings available for people who want to test for drugs or for companies needing to test their employees. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a list of certified laboratories that can conduct drug testing for federal agencies and specific regulated industries.  
  • How do I know I have passed a drug test?

Many people would like to know the results of their tests in cases where they did not make the test request. For example, a prospective employer may order the test, and the candidate wants to know about a drug test pass. You can make such a request to the employer before signing the release of the results to them. Hence, you and the prospective employer can receive the test outcome from the laboratory.
  • How long do drugs stay in the system after use?

The length of time drugs stay in the system depends on how long one has used the drugs. The occasional use leads to a two to four days stay, but more frequent use of drugs like marijuana can last from three to four weeks. Prolonged usage leads to some permanence which is discernible through tests like using hair specimens. 
  • Can employers do a drug test for marijuana in states where it is legal?

There are some states where the marijuana drug is legal. Generally, employers seeking a drug-free environment or needing to comply with statutory regulations can do a marijuana drug test in such States. However, some states have enacted laws to protect employees from testing, e.g., Arizona, Maine, and Minnesota. It is the onus of the employee to seek legal advice and appraise themselves on the testing laws.