Last updated: January 23, 2023
Our company facilitates over a hundred thousand drug tests each year for many industries throughout the United States, including pre-employment, random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion and drug sweep testing. Recently we noticed a pattern of abnormally high positive drug test results when performing company-wide drug sweeps. Over the past year one of our regional offices performed approximately seven large-scale company sweeps. One company had over 30% of their 150 employees test positive for illegal drugs!
This pattern wasn’t noticed before because, historically, few companies performed a company-wide drug sweep. The most common reasons for a drug sweep are employee complaints that drugs are present at a work site, which prompts a Drug-Free Workplace program with a new policy, or as the result of an incident that caused severe loss and seriously hurt or killed an employee. As we see more company-wide drug sweeps, one conclusion is that this type of testing pattern provides a complete picture regarding drugs in a particular workplace.
Random drug testing programs are the most common types of testing programs for employers who are serious about safety and risk mitigation. Generally, a workplace with a random drug testing program will see less than 8% positive drug test results. There are many possible circumstances that could cause the variations between company-wide sweeps versus random testing programs. Our experience shows that, throughout the course of the year, companies that perform drug sweeps (of all employees) are seeing double digit positive results.
One reason companies have elected to go with random drug testing versus company sweeps is the cost. Random testing programs typically test 25% to 50% of the employee population in a year. Another consideration is company culture, because when you randomly test (at a random time) this encourages employees to make better decisions regarding drug use in their personal time. A random drug testing program assists in the enforcement of the drug testing policy but, as you can see from the results of the sweeps, it is not perfect.
A company-wide drug sweep disrupts the pattern. Many employers or drug testing providers get stuck in a routine and the employees soon learn the pattern. Depending on the type of specimen collected, the detection can range from one to two days and up to 30 days or more, allowing employees to modify their usage. It is important to consult a professional to determine the appropriate type of testing because one size doesn’t fit all.
We have seen many companies modify their drug testing policy to allow for company-wide drug sweeps. Once it is company policy and the employees have been properly notified, a completely random time can be selected to perform a sweep. Having this option and choosing to exercise it can weed out abusers who are jeopardizing your reputation and the safety of your employees.