Employment Drug Testing

Drug testing promotes positive work culture

 According to a survey conducted by the Society of Human Resources, 57% of employers implement drug testing to determine if employees or job applicants are using drugs. Employers overlook drug testing because it’s not required by the state they are operating in, it’s too costly or they believe it’s not a viable investment. However, the benefits can be impactful.  Listed below are significant benefits of drug testing:

  • Creating a drug-free environment builds a safe workplace. Performing job functions while under the influence makes it more dangerous for employees and their colleagues. Using heavy equipment or driving a truck requires an employee to be alert; being under the influence will increase the likelihood of injury.
  • Drug screenings in companies has led to an increase of productivity within their employees. Drug problems can cause an individual to lose focus of their responsibilities and their commitment to their employer. Being absent and lack of punctuality are linked to drug use. Eliminating drugs from the equation helps shape a goal-oriented, productive atmosphere.
  • Employers may be eligible for discounts on workers compensation insurance for maintaining a drug-free work place by drug testing workers
  • Drug testing encourages a healthier lifestyle not only at the workplace, but also in employee’s personal lives.

Drug testing can lead to impactful company cultural changes. It is a representation of the restriction of drug use at the workplace and a great way to showcase company culture even before an employee is hired.  Reliable colleagues, motivating leaders, and a supportive learning environment are all desirable characteristics for job seekers.  Implementing a drug-free workplace shows employees that you not only care about their success, but their overall health. It is a key component in protecting the safety, health and welfare of employees.

At Nova Medical Centers  our teams of medical professionals specialize in ADA, DOT, NIOSH, OSHA and other state and regular federal regulations which govern the occupational medicine industry. Our sole focus on occupational health allows us to provide exceptional pre-employment services. We pride ourselves in tailoring our care to every single client. Contact us  today for more information about our pre-employment services.  Our friendly staff and team of experts are here to meet all of your occupational health needs.

Written by Nayda Sanchez

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3 Important Benefits of Drug Testing

Occupational Medicine “Eye Test” Results

Last week we posted an occupational medicine “eye test” for all of our social media followers on Facebook and LinkedIn. After many comments, the results are in!

Not following us on social?! Follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn for the latest!

You’ve probably seen a lot of “eye test” search memes on social media lately. The point of these tests is to see which word jumps out first and the meaning behind why you saw that word first. We decided to create an occupational medicine “eye test” for HR professionals, safety managers, and anybody else in the field! So, which word did you see first?

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Here are the results from our followers: As you can see, ergonomics was the most popular word found in the search with 65% of the comments. Safety came in second place with 55% of the comments. Workers and testing followed for third and fourth place. Medicine and health rounded out the field with 5% and 10% respectively.

eye-test-laters

Is there meaning behind each word and why somebody saw that word? We sure think so! Here are some explanations for both employees and employers:

  • Ergonomics | If this was the first word you saw in the search and you’re an employer, you probably understand the positive impact ergonomics can have on your employees. If this is something you’re just starting to explore, we have two resources for you on getting started with ergonomics in the workplace! If you’re an employee, you probably work at a company that stresses ergonomics and you’ve experienced the benefits.
  • Testing | Are you getting ready to hire a lot of workers for your company? If you’re an employer and you saw “testing” first, pre-employment tests are probably on your mind. Did you know we’re experts in ADA, DOT, NIOSH, OSHA, and other state and federal regulations which govern the occupational medicine industry? As always, you can reach out to us if you have any questions.

Related: 24/7 Drug and Alcohol Testing

  • Safety | For employers, creating a safe workplace for employees can increase employee morale and cutback on injuries thus increasing efficiency. Doing this starts with hiring the right type of employee and training for safety in your workplace. See our full list of ways to increase safety in the workplace here.
  • Workers | Workers are the heart and soul for any company so finding it first in the search is no surprise, but were you also thinking about workers compensation? Both employers and employees have a lot of questions about workers comp so we’ve created a friendly Q&A section regarding the topic.
  • Medicine | When it comes to occupational health, medicine and vaccinations are very important preventive measures. Employers, are your employees up to date on important vaccines? Employees, are you going to be traveling internationally for work? Make sure you’re current with all of your vaccines before embarking!
  • Health | Overall health in the workplace is important to both employers and employees. We were surprised this word wasn’t seen by more people! Employers, how are you encouraging healthy choices in the workplace? If you need help getting started with improving the overall health of employees, we provide health and wellness fairs!

Now it’s your turn to tell us why YOU saw a word first. Tell us below in the comments or on Twitter.

Drug Test Positives On the Rise?

When is a positive not a positive? When it comes to drug test positives in the workplace, an increase in positive results is the worst thing you want to see in the workplace.  Get the facts from a recent study, learn why this increase could hurt your workplace, and see what you can do to protect your business.

5.5% Increase in Drug Test Positives

The percentage of positive drug tests among American workers has increased for the first time in more than a decade, fueled by a rise in marijuana and amphetamines, according to an analysis of 8.5 million urine, oral fluid and hair workplace drug test results released today by Quest Diagnostics, the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services.
Related: Importance of Industrial Medicine in 21st Century
The Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index (DTI) shows that the positivity rate for 7.6 million urine drug tests in the combined U.S. workforce increased to 3.7 percent in 2013, compared to 3.5 percent in 2012. The relative increase of 5.7 percent year-over-year is the first time the positivity rate for combined national workplace urine drug tests has increased since 2003.

Major Increases in Marijuana and Amphetamines

Marijuana continues to be the most commonly detected illicit drug, according to the DTI analysis of urine drug tests. Marijuana positivity in the combined U.S. workforce increased 6.2 percent, to 1.7 percent in 2013 compared to 1.6 percent in 2012.
In the safety-sensitive workforce, marijuana positivity increased 5.6 percent (0.67% vs. 0.63%). In the general U.S. workforce, the positivity rate increased 5 percent, to 2.1 percent in 2013 compared to 2.0 percent in the prior year.
Continuing a multi-year upward trend, amphetamines use – specifically the use of methamphetamine – showed an increase across all three specimen types. Combined U.S. workforce data in urine showed a 10 percent (0.85% vs. 0.77%) year-over-year increase in amphetamines positivity in 2013 compared to 2012.

Decreases in Oxycodone Use

The DTI data also reported declines for prescription opiates positivity in urine drug tests. Prescription opiates refer to drugs used for pain management, such as hydrocodone and oxycodones. The current data shows oxycodones positivity declined 8.3 percent (0.88% vs. 0.96%) between 2013 and 2012 and 12.7 percent (0.96% vs. 1.1%) between 2012 and 2011 in the combined U.S. workforce.

Dangers of Intoxication in the Workplace

While some drug users will indulge in occasional, recreational use of drugs when not at work, the presence of a drug in an individual’s body can be a sign of a serious chemical addiction and may also be an indication of an underlying personality disorder that would make that individual a poor choice as an employee. Below are several ways that drug screening of potential employees can benefit an employer.
Related: International Workplaces and Drug Testing
Some work conditions involve the use of heavy machinery or performance of other tasks that require the full concentration of the employee. The intrinsic hazards of these workplaces are multiplied when an employee is under the influence of drugs. Drug testing helps prevent a potentially impaired employee from attempting to perform complex or dangerous tasks and possibly harming himself or other employees.  Learn More about Eliminating Risk in the workplace through Drug Testing.

Protecting Your Business and Your Employees

On a job site, you are responsible for the protection and wellbeing of your employees.  Without regular (or random) drug testing, pre-employment drug testing, or post-injury drug testing; you put your business and employees at risk of one careless employee who could injure, steal from, or in any other form cause harm to those around him or her.
Nova Medical Centers, with occupational health clinics in Texas, Georgia, and Tennessee will provide on-site drug and alcohol testing to employees and if needed can provide verifiable and immediate results.  Nova Medical Centers drug testing services include:

  • 24/7 onsite drug and alcohol testing capability
  • Real-Time customized web-based reporting
  • DOT-regulated drug screening reported ONLINE within 24-48 hrs
  • Pre-employment drug screening reported ONLINE within 24-48 hrs
  • RAPID/INSTANT drug testing reported ONLINE REAL-TIME
  • eScreen/eCup provider with ONLINE reporting interface
  • Breath Alcohol Testing (EBAT)

Nova Medical Centers‘ team of medical professionals are experts in ADA, DOT, NIOSH, OSHA and other state and federal regulations which govern the occupational medicine industry. This expertise is a necessary component to help avoid potential risks and loss.  Contact us to see what we can do to help you protect your employees and business.

International Workplaces and Drug Testing

Owners of businesses with international scales have much more to consider when developing their workforce.  One of these considerations is something that comes as a standard to US-Based Businesses: Pre-employment, post-accident, or random drug testing.  What happens when your company begins to compete in the international scale, and this standard of employment is either frowned upon or flat out banned?

Workplace Safety on an International Scale

Employers face a much different landscape once leaving U.S. borders. What works here may not necessarily work there, and in fact, could result in sanctions or legal action. Before beginning international operations, employers should consider that other countries may have a different perspective on the employment relationship itself.

In many other countries, for example, it is assumed that employers have a disproportionate share of the power and leverage in the employment relationship, necessitating that employees be provided with certain legal protections we do not find in the U.S. This assumption creates some fundamental differences in the ways that other countries approach the employment relationship.

Let’s start with the fact that the United States is virtually alone in the developed world in permitting employment-at-will.

What this means is that in most other countries, employers may terminate for cause only, or risk penalties and even lawsuits. Consider that in much of the rest of the developed world employment agreements are not only commonly used, they may even be desirable for employers. These two concepts alone can be a big surprise for employers who previously have not operated outside of U.S. borders.

Before we discuss drug-testing outside of the U.S., allow me to set the scene by describing what I have observed with clients just beginning to expand internationally. It is not uncommon for employers just beginning cross-border operations to import wholesale their U.S. policies and practices, including employee handbooks, EEO policies (including citing U.S. law!), hiring, firing, and leave policies.

In some ways, this makes sense. It saves money to use policies and procedures already in place, and using the same policies across divisions or among subsidiaries ensures consistency and perhaps easier administration. When it comes to drug-testing policies, however, employers should carefully consider the legal landscape of the countries in which they operate prior to implementing U.S.-based policies.

Random testing may be illegal in other jurisdictions

Although our neighbor to the north, Canada, may appear to be very similar to the U.S., the Supreme Court of Canada recently held that the implementation of random alcohol testing for employees in safety-sensitive positions was an invasion of privacy and an invalid exercise of management rights.

The Court held that without “evidence of enhanced safety risks, such as evidence of a general problem with substance abuse in the workplace,” such testing was an “unjustified affront to the dignity and privacy of employees,” and therefore impermissible. In other words, just because the workplace might be inherently dangerous due to the nature of the work (for example, manufacturing or construction), this fact alone does not justify random testing.

While “reasonable suspicion” testing may be permissible under certain circumstances, employers should be sure to carefully document unsafe behavior and verifiable examples of drug or alcohol-related incidents.

Drug and alcohol testing in Europe can also be tricky, where employees generally have greater privacy rights than in the U.S., and drug and alcohol testing may be seen as a violation of the employee’s basic right to privacy.

Although employers and employees can generally set out the parameters of acceptable drug and alcohol testing through employment contracts, some countries, such as Belgium and Finland, prohibit the contracting away of basic privacy rights and may hold such contractual provisions to be invalid. In Poland and the Czech Republic drug and alcohol testing is generally prohibited.

Pre-employment screening is permissible in some countries (the United Kingdom), but is strictly limited in others. In France, for example, pre-employment drug-screening is generally prohibited unless an occupational physician recognizes and recommends such testing.

7 Legal Considerations in International Drug Testing

In fact, drug and alcohol testing is strictly limited in most European countries, as well as many other countries around the world, including countries as diverse as Chile, Colombia, and South Africa.

In other countries, such as India and China, drug and alcohol testing is generally not done, either because many of the substances that might be prohibited in the U.S. are widely and legally available, and/or substance abuse counselors and rehabilitation programs are scarce or non-existent.

Unjustified testing can result in fines, and even criminal sanctions in several European countries. In general, employers should always check the law in each particular jurisdiction in which they operate.

Although drug and alcohol testing requirements vary by country, there are some common-sense protections for all employers to consider implementing:

  1. Know the law in the country in which you plan to operate. Do not assume that U.S. policies can be implemented in other jurisdictions;
  2. Have written policies that set out testing parameters. Set out types of testing that will be conducted (where permitted), and levels of discipline associated with positive tests. Include information regarding prevention, counseling and treatment where appropriate;
  3. Ensure that employees’ privacy is being respected and that all privacy controls are firmly in place;
  4. Carefully consider drug and alcohol testing policies, and use only where necessary. Broadly applied testing may run afoul of many other countries’ privacy laws;
  5. Ensure that the least-intrusive means of testing are being used;
  6. Limit testing to those substances that are reasonably believed to have an effect on workplace safety;
  7. Consider applicable disability discrimination laws prior to implementing policies or taking any disciplinary action. Keep in mind that unlike in the U.S., some countries consider current drug users to be protected under disability discrimination laws.

Original Article found in the TLNT Human Resources and Recruiting article “Implementing Drug and Alcohol Testing at Non-U.S. Operations.”

Eliminate Potential Risk With Pre-Employment Drug Testing

Every employer wants to hire the best man or woman for the job. To this end, employers review applications, conduct interviews and perform background checks.However, these steps may not always tell an employer everything he or she needs to know about a potential employee. Pre-employment drug testingcan also give valuable information that may help an employer make the right decision about hiring a prospective employee.

Drug Testing Basics

Drug tests are offered by private companies and laboratories that specialize in drug screening, as well as by medical clinics and industrial and occupational medicine practices. Pre-employment drug testing can search for a single drug or for all common street and prescription drugs. The most common method of drug testing is chemical analysis of a sample of urine or blood from the prospective employee. These tests can indicate whether an individual has used drugs in the previous one to two weeks. A hair follicle test can also be performed to determine if a person has used drugs in the past several months.

The Importance of Pre-Employment Drug Testing

While some drug users will indulge in occasional, recreational use of drugs when not at work, the presence of a drug in an individual’s body can be a sign of a serious chemical addiction and may also be an indication of an underlying personality disorder that would make that individual a poor choice as an employee. Below are several ways that drug screening of potential employees can benefit an employer.

Workplace Safety

Some work conditions involve the use of heavy machinery or performance of other tasks that require the full concentration of the employee. The intrinsic hazards of these workplaces are multiplied when an employee is under the influence of drugs. Drug testing helps prevent a potentially impaired employee from attempting to perform complex or dangerous tasks and possibly harming himself or other employees.

Protection from Civil Liability and Criminal Prosecution

An employee acts as a representative of a company. If an employee harms a person or causes damage to private or public property while working, the company, as well as the individual employee, can be sued for damages. In addition to civil liability, a business owner might also be subject to criminal prosecution if an employee commits a crime while on the job or is found to possess controlled substances on company property or in a company vehicle.

Safeguarding Company Property

Although theft is not limited to drug users, workers with a drug addiction are more likely than non-drug users to steal from their employer, co-workers or even clients or customers. Individuals with a serious addiction who have access to company funds, computers, vehicles, client’s belongings or other objects of value might be more prone to steal due to a lowered threshold of impulse control or a need for extra money to pay for drugs. Also, in most jurisdictions, vehicles driven by an intoxicated driver or in which drugs are found during a traffic stop are subject to impound or confiscation by the police.

Most employers, especially those whose employees work closely with the public, benefit from screening all new hires for a range of common drugs as part of the hiring process. Although drug testing is not a foolproof means of gauging how reliable and efficient a potential employee will be, it can allow an employer to avoid hiring an individual that is likely to perform poorly or even be a detriment to the company.

Ensuring The Highest Standard With Pre-Employment Drug Testing

Employers have a specific process in place that is used by the HR department in order to conduct interviews and hire employees.

The HR department is responsible for vetting prospective employees to make sure that they meet the established standards of the business and share its overall vision. While there are certain standards that are easier to judge, like a person’s experience and personality, there are other items that can be a tad more difficult to discern. For this reason, employers will look to have the prospective employee undergo pre-employment drug testing as a means of ensuring the right person is being hired. Many business owners might be apprehensive about engaging in such techniques, but there are numerous tangible benefits. This piece will focus on these benefits and illustrate why pre-employment drug testing should be a requirement.

Indicator of Employee’s Habits

Every business’s goal, to make money, can be hampered by hiring an employee who is not meeting the established standards and is bringing the entire team down. For this reason, employers use pre-employment drug testing as a means of assessing an employee’s drug use over a certain time. It can shed light on matters many employers can overlook during the regular interviewing process. It is generally used as the final check mark prior to hiring the employee and working towards bettering the business. While interviewers may be uncomfortable asking questions about a prospective employee’s drug habits, to which interviewees can always give untruthful answers, drug testing is a scientific, less uncomfortable method of finding the answers.

Prevents Misconduct

Pre-employment drug testing can help prevent misconduct in the workplace before it ever has a chance to arise. Removing individuals who are participating in illicit activities helps ensure that the workplace is a safe and secure environment for all hired employees.

Businesses that rely on their employees to ensure the safety of their customers should strongly consider pre-employment drug testing. There is no room for error when employees are handling safety-sensitive transportation vehicles or equipment, and people with a drug or alcohol problem are much more likely to get in a motor accident or file a workers’ compensation claim. Screening for such issues before hiring is the easiest and most cost-effective way to avoid problems related to drug use down the line.

A Requirement for Working With the Government

The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires some Federal contractors and all Federal grantees to agree that they will provide a drug-free workplace in order to be eligible to receive a grant or a contract from a Federal agency. This means that any employer who hopes to work with the US Government has an obligation to ensure that drugs and alcohol are not being consumed by employees at any time, neither at work nor in their private lives, to the best of their ability. One of the best ways to ensure compliance with the Act is pre-employment drug testing for all employees.

Drive Down Costs

Drug users are much more likely to be absent from work, slowing production and dragging down profit for the company. Additionally, businesses will often provide healthcare benefits for employees as a means to boost productivity and loyalty, as well as to comply with changing government health care regulations. Drug users are more likely to require medical attention and to be absent from work as a result, which can be a serious drain on resources for the business that is both providing the healthcare and dependent upon the employee’s services.