Cocaine drug testing is crucial in today’s workplace environment because it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. The reason employees use cocaine is to increase energy levels and happiness, benefits that looks great on paper, but reactions are not consistent among users. Some users are known to become paranoid, aggressive, or even violent, a detriment in the fast-paced business world.
There are three industry standards for wide-ranging drug testing. They are the 5-panel, 10-panel, and 12-panel range of tests. The DOT uses the 5-panel test which measures instances of THC, opiates, PCP, cocaine, and amphetamines. Employers outside of the DOT are free to use whatever panel they wish, the obvious difference among the tests being basically time and money
Filtering out employees who use cocaine leads to better working conditions and a more stable working environment. Having a good policy detailing drug testing reasons is a great way to ensure standards are understood and met consistently.
Reasons to conduct a cocaine drug test
There are five different reasons any employer (DOT or non-DOT) would want to conduct a drug test. They are pre-employment, random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, and return to duty. Included in this list is the special case of the Department of Transportation.
These tests should be clearly outlined and defined in a well-written, well-documented drug policy. The protects both the company and the employee and is imperative in maintaining a continually operational and effective workplace.
Pre-employment drug test
The pre-employment drug test occurs before the employee ever begins working for the company, usually after the potential candidate passes interviews and background checks. This a preventative measure designed to funnel out any potential issues before they even have a chance to occur.
Random drug test
A random drug test occurs at the discretion of the company at any point in time. It is a measure designed to ensure that workers don’t merely stop using drugs for the sake of the interview and on-boarding process. This encourages a great lifestyle on the side of the employee, mitigating healthcare costs, and also helps the company maintain a continuously positive culture. It varies company to company, but tests can range from quarterly to monthly. The Department of Transportation has random drug testing yearly.
Post-accident drug test
Anytime an employee has an accident, the company may be required to administer a post-accident drug test. There are two purposes: to identify the liability of negligence and, more importantly, to create the incentive for employees to avoid drug use entirely. If an employee knows they’ll be held responsible, it diminishes drug use in the workplace.
Reasonable suspicion drug test
Drug use changes behavior in often obvious manners (more energy, less energy, involuntary movements in the eyes, face, body, etc.). A supervisor or manager is allowed to conduct a drug test in the event of a change of behavior that is suspected to be related to drug use. The behaviors that an employer is looking for should be clearly outlined and written into your drug policy.
Return to duty
After an employee tests positive for drug use and before an employee can return to safety-sensitive positions and roles, the employer has to conduct a return to duty drug test. This helps to ensure that the employee has not used drugs since the last occurrence and helps to maintain a workplace of the highest productivity.
DOT drug test
Employers operating under the Department of Transportation regulations are required to administer DOT drug tests in order to remain in compliance. This is in stark contrast to employers who don’t operate in the DOT space as this is mandatory. Furthermore, the testing must be made in accordance with specific DOT regulations that may vary greatly from company policies.
How is a cocaine drug test conducted
There are many ways to perform a drug test. Non-DOT employers are free to conduct a cocaine drug test using any modern method. Each method has its own pros and cons. DOT employers are federally required to administer drug tests under current DOT drug testing regulations.
Mouth swab drug test
The mouth swab drug test is the most convenient of the three listed here. It can be performed onsite, anywhere, even in front of an employee’s colleagues. It works best for recent drug use, which means the decided disadvantage is that it has a narrow testing window.
To administer the mouth swab drug test, a drug testing specialist arrives and, using a sterile cotton swab, swipes saliva from the employee. Placing the cotton swab in a tamper-proof plastic envelope, the drug testing specialist can either produce results on site or take it to a lab. It is very fast and very simple.
Hair follicle drug test
The hair follicle test is the second most convenient of the three listed here. It can still be performed onsite, which is very handy, but the biggest drawback occurs from the workforce itself. There are some workers who probably do not want their hair cut. The workaround for this is to minimize the amount of hair taken.
To administer the hair follicle drug test, the specialist cuts a sample of hair as close to the scalp as possible (or as close as the employee feels is necessary). The specialist places the sample into a plastic envelope and sends it to the lab. This test can be performed in minutes, which is a huge bonus.
Urine drug test
One of the more common approaches, the urine drug test is one of the most inconvenient tests to perform. It requires sterile bathroom facilities and a laboratory assistant of the same sex to handle someone else’s urine.
To perform this test, the drug testee provides their product into a cup, placing a tamper resistant cap on top. The specialist takes the sample, sometimes adding tape as an extra anti-tampering measure and sends it to the lab for analysis. The time cost of this test depends on the employee’s ability to urinate. The greatest advantage to the urine test is that it has a wide testing window, 30 days. Please note: the urine drug test is the only acceptable drug test for DOT standards.
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