Last updated: February 24, 2020
Employers seeking the safest work environment possible have a drug free protocol in place, but what drugs do drug tests look for?
Basically, the broad range answer is all of them.
Drug tests have the ability to incorporate all types of drugs. However unless regulated by the DOT or some other entity, the employer chooses the drug test put in place.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires employers of the safety-sensitive workforce to drug test employees. The following are just cause for employee drug testing:
- Pre-employment testing
- Random testing
- Post-accident testing
- Reasonable suspicion testing
- Probationary periods
The DOT doesn’t insist that employers test for every illegal or abused drug known to man, however.
The DOT drug test looks for five of the most commonly abused drugs in the workplace. They are amphetamines, opiates, marijuana, PCP (phencyclidine), and cocaine. The test also determines a positive result for Ecstasy, methamphetamines, or heroin. In an effort to battle our current synthetic opioid crisis it added oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone to the list.
Employers who are not regulated by the DOT can decide whether they will use a standard panel test or create one of their own. There are a variety of testing panels; such as the 5 panels, 9 or 10 panel, and the 12 panel. Your lab representative knows which drugs come standard on these panels.
By the same token, an employer is not held to the standard drug panel choices. You are free to mix and match or leave the drugs already in place and add additional types to the list. Also if your region of the country is plagued with specific drug abuse, creating a drug test of your own is by no means out of the question.
Lastly, your drug free workplace protocol mandates when your company issues a drug test. All of the above mentioned DOT drug tests benefit your company as well. Consequently, if you don’t currently have these testing policies in place, consider adding some or all of them.
Drug testing technology is very precise. It has come a long way from the early days of drug tests. If you want to ensure the best of the best, consider choosing a SAMHSA approved laboratory. Laboratories that are SAMHSA approved are held to the highest standards of operation. There is no way for a user to go undetected if there are drugs in the system.
That is if the employer has the drug included on the test panel.
You have the ability to discover:
- Opiates and Synthetic Opioids
- MDMA (Ecstasy)
- Bath Salts
- Synthetic marijuana (K2 or spice)
- Rohypnol (Roofies)
If you have a reasonable suspicion policy in place and suspect someone is impaired by drug use, testing them is the way to determine the answer.
It’s a known fact that drug use is a thorn in the side of employers everywhere.
Today’s culture treats casual drug use as acceptable, addiction is raging out of control, and drug users make the workplace unsafe. Not to mention that marijuana legalization throws a whole new spin on things entirely!
Workplace accidents create chaos in the lives of all involved. If the employee responsible is inhibited by drug use, you need to be aware of that fact as soon as possible. It’s important to realize that 10-20% of employees that die in this country while at work have drugs or alcohol in their system.
That is a pretty substantial number.
Furthermore, drug users are absent more frequently and have a lower productivity rate.
If your business drug tests, you are wise to be cautious.
Numbers are on the rise
Thirty years after the Drug-Free Workplace Act was put into practice, drug use in the workforce is at an all-time high.
No pun intended.
The news is devastating for employers and employees alike. Equally important is the ripple effect that encompasses the millions of families that are affected by drug abuse to varying degrees. Our nation is suffering.
Moreover, it is impossible to anticipate what the next drug of choice will be because of changing demographics. This, alone, makes it difficult for employers to know where to put their focus regarding drug prevention. All things combined, though, ensuring a safe and healthy work environment is becoming more and more difficult.
Never give up
It’s a known fact that education is key to making a change for the better. Thus, informing your employees of the dangers of drugs allows them to make informed choices. Shining a light on the darkness of drug abuse and the hazards it contains is an effective tool. Pamphlets or educational classes let your employees know that you care about them. In fact, it can create a springboard of hope for someone caught in the throes of addiction.
Maybe it will encourage them to seek help. Please, be open to that thought, by the way. If an employee comes to you or your management team with a confession of drug use, do all you can to help them find treatment. Showing that you care can have an effect on someone that lasts throughout their life.
Certainly, making your workplace as safe as possible is a noble cause. We commend your effort. Considering other options to further help employees that are trapped in a lifestyle that includes drug or alcohol abuse is worthy of a standing ovation!
However, we know that sometimes it gets hard to keep after a noble cause.
We grow weary.
Nonetheless, a noble cause is worth fighting for at all costs. Taking arms against drug use is imperative for employers and our nation as a whole. Not only does drug abuse wreak havoc in the workplace, but we must also consider the pain the abuser’s family suffers.
Don’t give up. We must never give up!