Picture of medicine bottle and drug test form with pen

Guide To Pre-Employment Drug Test Screening

By William Bierlein

Drug abuse is a challenge that affects many employers across the nation. Intoxication, whether from illicit drug use or prescription medication abuse, impairs an employee’s ability to work safely. In addition to the increased risk of accidents, intoxication can also derail workers’ productivity and impair their ability to make sound decisions.

Generally, drug abuse in the workplace is costly and wasteful for both employers and employees. That is why it is essential to conduct pre-employment drug test screening to foster a drug-free work environment.

At DTC Medical Supplies Inc., we can help you carry out seamless pre-employment drug screening by supplying you with the test kits you need for convenient onsite testing. We treasure our customer experience and are always ready to deliver the kits as reliably as possible. Kindly visit our shop to view the various testing supplies available.

The Grim Reality of Substance Abuse in the workplace

A past study (2018) on illicit drug use revealed that 11.7% of persons aged 12 years and above had used illegal drugs within the past month. This was an increase from the previous year’s data, which had reported 11.2% illicit drug use for the same demographic.

Unfortunately, drug abuse is not just a personal struggle. As earlier mentioned, it has negative implications in the workplace. While employers expect an annual illness or injury-caused absenteeism of about 15 days, people with substance use disorders have a higher absenteeism rate estimated at 24.6 days per year.

In addition, their resignation rate is usually higher than other employees, at 40% compared to 22% of the drug-free workers. Generally, employee turnover is costly for employers as the recruiting and training costs for an employee may go up to several months worth of their salary. Owing to the high turnover among drug addicted employees, companies lose even more.

Factor in their treatment expenses, the losses from accidents they may cause, the effect of decreased productivity on the bottom line, and the cost of substance abuse in the workplace increase tremendously.

What Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing?

Pre-employment drug testing is a test done on job applicants during the hiring process to determine whether they are using any illicit drugs or abusing prescription medication that could impair their ability to work safely. The test is mainly required for positions in the government, healthcare, manufacturing, automotive, transportation & logistics, construction, private security, among other top industries.

In most cases, employers require a 5-panel drug test, which screens the following substances;

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana/THC
  • Amphetamines
  • Phencyclidine/PCP
  • Opioids

Other times, some employers might require a seven, nine, or ten-panel drug test. The drugs tested under each of these include;

7-Panel Drug Test

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana/THC
  • Amphetamines
  • Phencyclidine/PCP
  • Opioids
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates

9-Panel Drug Test

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana/THC
  • Amphetamines
  • Phencyclidine/PCP
  • Opioids
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates
  • Propoxyphene
  • Methadone

10-Panel Drug Test

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana/THC
  • Amphetamines
  • Phencyclidine/PCP
  • Opioids
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates
  • Propoxyphene
  • Methadone
  • Methaqualone

The jobs that require drug testing are offered on the condition that the candidate passes the test. If the drug test results are positive, even after confirmation testing, the employer has a right to deny them the opportunity.

Why Is Drug Testing Important?

As much as pre-employment drug testing is legal, some people oppose it. There have been incidents where employers have been sued for issues ranging from privacy infringement, among others.

Despite the opposition, drug testing is crucial in some industries. However, employers must follow the regulations strictly when conducting the screenings to avoid compliance pitfalls. Some notable benefits of drug testing in the workplace include;

  • Safety – Substance abuse impairs one’s faculties, compromising their ability to work safely. For instance, if a construction or manufacturing worker operating heavy equipment goes to work intoxicated, they endanger themselves and others. A slight blunder, maybe due to slowed judgment, can result in a disastrous accident, leading to injuries and property damage. Testing candidates before offering them a job is the best way to ensure you are admitting drug-free employees into the workplace to enhance safety.
  • Embezzlement of funds – Drug abuse tends to push the addicts to the extremes. If an employee who is addicted to certain drugs runs out of money, they might be tempted to steal or misappropriate their employer’s funds to buy the drugs and satisfy their craving. Thus, pre-employment can help identify potential drug users and avoid hiring them.
  • Decision making – Conducting drug screening for positions involving making key business decisions can help avoid engaging people who might potentially ruin the company with bad decisions. Decreased employee morale, poor customer experiences, and loss of reputation are some dangers that can result from supervisors and other leaders making bad decisions.
  • Productivity – Generally, intoxication impairs one’s thinking and speed, leading to decreased output. A worker with a substance abuse disorder could also record a higher absenteeism rate, affecting their overall productivity. Testing candidates for drugs before hiring them can help you keep off potential drug addicts who might potentially derail your productivity.

Types of Drug Tests

U.S. employers can choose among various test types – urine, saliva, blood, and hair – for pre-employment drug screening. Urine test is the most common, while saliva comes second. But other tests are also possible.

Whatever your preferred option, remember you can contact us at DTC Medical Supplies Inc. to check the availability of the test and order for prompt delivery.

Urine Drug Test

The candidate provides a urine sample which goes through screening to find whether they have used the drugs under observation in the recent past. This could be from one to three days back.

Urine test is usually used to detect drugs, including opioids, nicotine, cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana, amphetamines, and alcohol.

Saliva Drug Test

The saliva test is one of the most preferred tests by employers due to its inability to be adulterated. This is because the specimen collector and the candidate are usually in the same room, which minimizes the risk of the applicant submitting a fake sample. It is also the easiest test to conduct onsite and can detect drug use from a few hours to three days back. However, the detection window can be longer for people who use the screened drugs often.

Blood Drug Test

The applicant may also be requested to submit to a blood test to screen for drugs and alcohol. But this is used less often. The most common drugs tested using blood tests include marijuana, cocaine, opioids, amphetamines, alcohol, and methamphetamines.

Hair Drug Test

A hair test could also be done to test the use of drugs up to three months back. The screening officer collects strands of the applicant’s hair close to the scalp and sends them to the lab for testing. Hair tests are mostly done to test for drugs such as opioids, cocaine, marijuana, phencyclidine, and methamphetamine.

The Process of Drug Test Screening

Due to the high risk of litigation, you should be careful before rolling out pre-employment drug screening to ensure you do it within the set federal and state regulations. Essentially, a successful drug-testing program should follow these basic procedures.

  • Draft the drug testing policy – Consult with your legal team and draft your policy detailing the process in line with the existing state and federal laws. For instance, you should not request drug screening for job applicants based on their gender, age, race, or national origin or infringe their privacy by asking them to undress publicly for the test. Instead, the procedure should be fair and protect the applicant’s basic rights.
  • Inform the applicants about the screening – Mention the drug screening requirement in the job posting or the offer letter, so the applicants are aware of the procedure beforehand.
  • Obtain consent from the candidate – Ensure the candidates sign a written consent form agreeing to the screening.
  • Organize for the testing – Organize where and how the test will be carried out and inform the applicant where to go.
  • Medical review – Have the medical review officer (MRO) review the submitted samples and provide feedback. If the candidate tests positive, the officer will ask the candidate for additional information that may clarify the results, such as being on prescription medication. An applicant may also request a retest of the initial sample if they doubt the results. Otherwise, a confirmation test will be required if they are not on any prescription medication.
  • Make the decision – If the test (initial and confirmation) is positive, you should notify the candidate. At this point, you have a right to deny them the job offer.

We Can Deliver the Supplies You Need for Onsite Drug Testing

Pre-employment drug testing is an essential process of enhancing safety in the workplace while eliminating the apparent financial risks associated with hiring workers with a substance abuse disorder. Moreover, conducting onsite drug tests makes the process even more affordable as you save on the costs of having to send the applicants to an external facility.

Whenever you are hiring and need to perform drug tests on the applicants, you can count on us to deliver test kits reliably to your premises. Besides, we provide support on product use to allow you a smooth experience. Explore our testing supplies and let us know which and when you need them.