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Drug abuse and alcohol have become one of the most serious problems in the workforce these days. Drug and alcohol testing has become standard related to workplaces because of this fact. The problem creates costs of billions of dollars a year because of accidents, loss of productivity and other issues. Research has shown that almost 10% of full time employees over the age of 18 are illicit drug users. The amount grows to nearly 14% for part-time employees over the age of 18. That points to nearly 15 million of adults aged 18 or older are employed full and part time and use illicit drugs. These statistics show that most employees do abuse alcohol or drugs.
These statistics encourage most employers to request drug testing as a condition of employment. Some people will stop seeking the job if a company notifies them of a pre-employment drug test. This helps reduce the number of candidates that apply that may have drug or alcohol problems. Employers can also run random drug tests after someone is hired. They just need to put the information in the employee handbook. They also need to tell them ahead of time.
There are several ways to test. The tests can involve sampling hair, blood, or even saliva. The most commonly used test is a urine sample. This is because the cost is lower and it is less invasive.
This issue has a high impact on professional drivers. In 1991 the US Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act. This act made the DOT agencies start drug and alcohol testing for transportation employees. 49 CFR Part 40 explains how to run these tests. It also explains how to get employees in safety-sensitive duties back to work if they fail a test for drugs or alcohol abuse. This part relates to all tests given by the DOT no matter the mode of transportation. You may work under FAA rules or FMCSA rules and these actions still apply to you. Agencies that are covered by the DOT have their own regulations that explain who has to be tested and how. They also explain when and for what situations testing covers.
Commercial drivers including drivers of trucks and busses are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They outline the drug and alcohol testing rules for employees that have a commercial driver’s license. Along with the above information, they also impose privacy protections and restrictions on employers against the use and release of sensitive drug and alcohol testing information.
Companies have found many good reasons to perform drug testing. The top reason is that it improves safety in the workplace. It also improves employee performance by reducing turnover, absenteeism, tardiness and sick leave. It reinforces any “no-use” policy as well as gives reasons for discipline or firing of an employee. Testing can improve employee morale, the community image of the business, and ultimately customer satisfaction.
Employers test for different reasons. There are pre-employment tests that make passing a condition for employment. Some companies give random drug tests which can be given if the employees are told in advance. Tests can also be given if an employer suspects use or if an employee has an accident.
What substances are tested for?
There are several substances that employers test for such as marijuana, codeine, cocaine, amphetamines, PCP, morphine and heroin. Most 5 or 10 panel drug tests don’t screen for drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone or hydromorphone. These drugs are found in prescription drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin and others. Employees can request that these drugs be included in the testing. Street drugs and designer drugs can also be included in the drug testing as well .