6 Biggest Mistakes Employers Make (With Drug Testing)

Safety Center Incorporated LogoThis blog post is based on the Sacramento Regional Safety Forum, which took place on March 5, and is  part of our ongoing monthly blog on Alcohol & Drug Prevention in the workplace. For more articles on this topic, click here. Please Share this so others can see it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!

  1. Inconsistent administration

The most important part of any policy – drug or general office policy – is consistency. If there are gaps for employees to slip through because of personal relationships or leniency, it creates an environment that allows for drug use to slip into and affect the workplace.

Rules must be hard, but clearly defined with no room for mistakes. While this may seem harsh, if the practice hasn’t normally been defined, the risks of allowing drug use in the workplace opens up the door to a whole host of issues – ranging from absenteeism to injuries and death due to an increased likelihood of mistakes happening in the workplace.

Click here for reference to drug and alcohol levels and testing (link: dot.gov).

  1. Not Testing Under Proper Circumstances

Keep in mind that there are 6 reasons to test someone:

– Pre-Employment (after you offer the position)

– Post-accident

– Reasonable suspicion of use or abuse

– Random testing

– When employees return from a work hiatus

– As a follow-up to previous tests taken

By keeping these guides in mind, you will be able to more efficiently find and resolve issues in the workplace relating to drug and alcohol use and abuse.

  1. Not documenting incidents appropriately

To test an employee based on Reasonable Suspicion,  based on observable facts, not just hearsay from around the office, and is very different from conducting random drug testing.

As an employer in the state of California, you have the right to test employees under reasonable suspicion, but make sure to document any incidences or moments to decrease the likelihood of alternate legal claims resulting from a drug test request.

  1. Choose the wrong test

This is a crucial point.

When it comes to testing, you’re looking to get the most for the money your organization puts in. The safest, most effective method is the standard urine test – it has the broadest acceptance in the court system; it can test for the highest number of drugs; and while it may be easier to cheat than a hair test, the time it takes to perform is the shorter and your results come back much faster.

The fact remains that testing for everything is impractical and more expensive. As such, it’s paramount that you know what you’re specifically testing for, or else your company will be paying for an ineffective regimen.

A few of the more common drugs to test for are marijuana, MDMA (Ecstasy) and methamphetamine, but common drugs tend to differ on a state-by-state (if not city-by-city) basis – so it’s important to be mindful and wary of what drugs are commonly used in your area, if you are going to have the most effective drug testing regimen.

For information on drug use, relating to DUIs, check out our article here!

  1. Not accounting for cheating

Choose a company that makes sure their tests are accurate. There are a number of ways to cheat any drug test – employees can (and have, in the past) done everything from diluting their sample to purchasing urine (in powder or liquid-form) to get around a test. It’s important to know how your lab goes about administering its test, to ensure the least likelihood of cheating occurs.

In short – knowing your drug testing lab, and how they work, is always a good idea. Like with any business transaction, it’s never a bad idea to know the quality of the work you’re purchasing.

  1. Flat-out not dealing with employee drug issues

This can’t be stressed enough:  there can be no room for excuses in the workplace, when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Drug use is a danger not just to the employee who uses, but the employees, clients and general public around them.

Being trained to spot signs is a must. Knowing how to deal with employees who use is a must. Never assume you “just know” that an employee isn’t using or abusing, if they are showing behaviors that could fall into Reasonable Suspicion – negligence in spotting and taking care of drug use in the workplace should never be an option.

A point of confusion, for some, is the medical marijuana card. In short, this card does not guarantee legal employment. According to Federal law (via the US Department of Transportation), marijuana is still illegal in any form and can be punished (since local laws and regulations are trumped by Federal rulings).

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