Drug Testing in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

Drug testing in the workplace — it’s always been somewhat of a controversial topic. As a leading staffing agency, it’s important to stay up to date on all rules and regulations that factor into the world of staffing and recruitment. We always look at the big picture to see how these changes factor into the ”day-to-day” for our customers.

In an effort to keep you informed, keep these points in mind when evaluating your company’s drug testing procedures.

urine sample drug screen

Pre-Employment Drug Testing

Medical marijuana is legal in 37 states and Washington D.C. Recreational marijuana is legal in 21 states and our nation’s capitol as well. However, since it isn’t federal law, employers can still drug test for marijuana in states where recreational marijuana is legal. This can be understandably confusing for employees.

While most private employers are not required to drug test when hiring employees, there are several reasons why one may choose to do so:

  • To qualify for workers’ comp discounts
  • To avoid legal liability
  • To save money by avoiding productivity loss (under the assumption that employees who use drugs are more likely to be late, absent, or be involved in a workplace accident)

However, keep in mind that in this tight labor market, you may be excluding good workers by performing a drug test for marijuana before hiring. Oregon is currently sitting at an unemployment rate of 4%; you don’t want to miss out on quality candidates by ruling them out if you don’t have to!

If your workplace currently performs urine drug tests but wants to potentially expand its candidate pool, consider changing your drug testing process to oral swabs. Benefits include:

  • A less invasive process
  • Oral swabs deliver instant results
  • Recent drug use can still be detected

Post-Accident Drug Testing

In many workplaces, if an employee is involved in an accident (such as a fender bender in a company car or a malfunction on the assembly line), they will automatically be drug tested.

The problem with this process is that there isn’t a current marijuana screen that will detect impairment. The tests can only detect what is in the person’s system at the time of screening, which could be residual from weeks prior.

With no way to test for impairment — which may have nothing to do with an injury anyway — it makes post-accident drug screening complicated. OSHA is even trying to set limits on post-accident drug screening, relying on tests that measure alcohol use, but not solely relying on tests that measure other drugs.

OSHA’s ruling also states that employers can’t deter proper incident reporting or retaliate against employees for reporting an injury in the workplace. They believe that if you have a policy that automatically calls for drug testing after every accident or injury, you are in violation of their law.

OSHA goes on to say that you may still use discretion to drug test an employee after an incident. However, before determining a test is necessary, employers must:

  • Take into account the details of each specific incident, and
  • Have good reason to believe that employee drug use was likely to have contributed to the incident in question

Therefore, it’s a good idea to train supervisors on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug abuse.

Bottom line

If you currently have an automatic mandatory post-accident drug testing procedure set up at your company, you may want to take a closer look and consider revising it.

We don’t need to remind you that employers who don’t comply with the OSHA rules could face penalties for each violation. (Note: This differs for those who employ transportation workers and follow the federal Department of Transportation laws for drug testing.)

Plus, employers could be missing out on great candidates by automatically excluding them when testing positive for marijuana.

If you have more questions about the OSHA laws and how they affect your company, contact your Selectemp representative today.

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