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Drug Free Workplace Program: A Practical Guide to Workplace Drug Testing

By Bill Nee, VP Sales/Marketing uVera Diagnostics

Drug free workplace programs are effective and easy to adopt at your place of business. Learn how our practical guide to workplace drug testing can help your company win the battle of drug abuse in the workplace. If you’re responsible for the drug testing of job candidates and employees at your organization, your efforts have a significant impact on everyone around you. By facilitating a drug free workplace, you improve your work environment in many ways.

Improve your work environment in many ways

  • You maintain a safe work environment.
  • As a result, you ensure productivity.
  • Plus, you help keep harmony in the workplace.
  • You lower the risk of accidents
  • Also, you lower the risks of workers compensation and disability claims.
  • Such programs discourage employees from abusing drugs and alcohol.

In addition, they identify employees with drug or alcohol problems and facilitate getting them the help they need to overcome those challenges.

Because of the complexity and time involved in traditional drug testing methodology, it’s likely you have considered workplace drug testing as an alternative.

With drug and alcohol testing kits available for purchase online, conducting workplace drug testing is a viable and affordable alternative. It not only provides convenience and cost-effectiveness to the organization, but it also makes the process of drug screening less intimidating for those being tested.

Before Starting a Drug Free Workplace Program

Of course, there’s a lot to consider before doing onsite drug testing. Two things to tackle before you conduct drug testing include:

1. Research all applicable laws to ensure you comply with them.

Drug testing laws vary from state to state, so it’s critical to educate yourself. Employers are usually legally allowed to test employees for drugs, but some states restrict the random testing of employees that don’t work in positions that have safety ramifications. Also, some states may require that before terminating employees who fail drug tests, employers must offer employee assistance program (EAP) services that provide counseling to employees and give them a second chance via a subsequent drug test within a specified time frame.

Some businesses must also abide by the rules set forth by the federal agencies that regulate their industries. Laws created to protect workers’ rights may restrict drug testing, too. Several to be aware of include:

2. Establish a written drug-free workplace and drug-testing policy.

This is essential so that job candidates and employees know your company’s rules and what to expect regarding drug testing. Consider consulting an attorney and/or human resources professional to assist you in developing and reviewing your policy. You’ll want to be sure it complies with all employment, anti-discrimination, and other laws.

According to DATIA (the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association), private employers that are not subject to federal drug testing rules and regulations have some flexibility in how they implement drug testing in their organizations. As mentioned above, companies in industries regulated by federal agencies must follow the rules of those agencies and the standardized drug testing procedures developed by SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

Even if your company isn’t required to follow the SAMHSA guidelines, complying with them may help avoid legal issues. SAMHSA has its mandatory guidelines for workplace drug testing available through its website.

An injured person on crutches standing in a doorway with a physical therapist on the blog Drug Free Workplace Program – A Practical Guide to Workplace Drug Testing

When to Do Onsite Drug Testing for Your Drug Free Workplace

Companies carry out drug testing under a variety of circumstances. For example:

  • Pre-employment – Drug testing to prevent hiring individuals who use illegal drugs or abuse other drugs
  • Random – Unannounced testing of individuals to help deter employees from abusing drugs and alcohol (Some organizations do “blanket” testing, in which, all employees are randomly tested at the same time.)
  • Post-accident – Drug testing after a work accident occurs to determine if drug or alcohol use caused the incident.
  • Reasonable suspicion – If an employee’s actions or behaviors raise suspicion of drug or alcohol use
  • Periodic – Scheduled testing that is announced to employees in advance

Sometimes, employers conduct drug testing in other situations, as well. For instance, some may opt to do follow-up testing after an employee returns to work after an illness or having completed a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program successfully.

What Substances Should You Test For?

Organizations that follow the SAMHSA guidelines test for five illicit drugs:

Most private employers may test for any number of substances, including drugs legitimately taken on a prescription basis. However, typically private companies test for selected “panels” of substances.

Drug Panel Tests

Panel tests detect for multiple drugs using a single sample. Some of the most frequently used panels used in testing include:

8-Panel Test: A typical 8-panel test will include:

10-Panel Test: A typical 10-Panel includes testing for methadone and propoxyphene in addition to all of the substance in the 8-Panel Test.

Testing of Additional Substances

Employers might also consider using more extensive panel test kits that detect anabolic steroids, ecstasy, hallucinogens, inhalants, and hydrocodone (such as oxycodone and Vicodin).

What are Drug Screening Cut-off Levels?

When a drug test determines that a specimen contains a minimum concentration of a drug, it is a positive result. This minimum measurement is called a “cut-off level.” Cut-off levels vary for each substance, and the acceptable cut-off levels may be different for different businesses depending on their drug-free workplace program and any government regulations that apply. When cut-off levels are set very low, there could be more instances of false positive results, thus wrongly implicating innocent persons of using drugs Likewise, when cut-off levels are set very high, the number of false negative results might increase, thus failing to detect drug users.

SAMHSA’s guidelines set cut-off levels on the high side, so using drug tests set to those levels helps minimize the risk of mistakenly accusing individuals of drug use/abuse. Also, keep in mind that legitimate use of some medications prescribed by physicians can result in false positive tests. For example, persons treated with Ritalin for ADHD might test positive for amphetamines or methamphetamines.

Specimens Used in Drug Testing for Your Drug Free Workplace

Testing for drugs involves taking samples from one of the following types of specimens:

  • Urine
  • Saliva
  • Blood
  • Sweat
  • Hair

Urine Drug Tests

Urine is the most commonly used specimen for detecting illicit drugs. The results of urine tests indicate the presence or absence of drug metabolites in an individual’s urine sample. However, a person whose urine test has a positive result might not be under the influence of a drug at the time of testing. A positive result means the test detected drug residues, which remain in the body for a period of time after drug use. In fact, urine tests aren’t usually helpful for identifying alcohol because alcohol passes through the body quickly.

Breath Drug Tests

This type of test is used for determining an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood. The individual blows into a device and the test returns a result, which indicates the person’s BAC at the time of the test. In all states, the legal BAC limit for driving is set at 0.08. Companies regulated by the DOT must enforce certain employee restrictions according to various BAC levels.

Blood Drug Tests

Blood tests precisely measure the number of drugs and alcohol in a person’s system when a sample is drawn. Note that the window of opportunity for detecting drugs via a blood sample is more short-lived than with urine tests. Most drugs pass through blood quickly before they are deposited in the person’s urine.

Hair Follicle Drug Tests

Drug testing using hair follicles as specimens can detect drug use as far back as 90 days. As with urine testing, hair testing picks up past drug use, not present impairment—and it is not effective for detecting alcohol.

Sweat Patch Drug Tests

Although not commonly used in the workplace, sweat patch drug tests exist, too. Testing consists of putting an adhesive test patch (which looks like a large bandage) on the individual’s skin for a certain amount of time.

CR3 Split-Sample Urine Drug Test Cup in gray and blue uVera Diagnostics Home

Our Most Popular Workplace Drug Test Kits

CR3™ Drug Test Cup

With a unique design that eliminates the mess that other drug test cups on the market are known for, our patented CR3 Drug Test Cup makes the process easier for drug testing administrators. It has a large opening, slanted top (much more convenient for female test subjects), and snap-shut lid. Because it is a keyless split-sample cup, all you need to do is twist the bottom to start the test. Subsequently, you have the results in approximately 5 minutes, and a residual sample is available for GC/MS confirmation if necessary.
Test options include: 5 panel, 6 panel, 10 panel, 12 panel, 14 panel.
Versions are available to detect if an individual used an adulterant to alter test results.

An all-in-one drug test with a multidrug panel on the blog Healthcare Industry Drug Testing to Deal with Employee Substance Abuse

All-in-one Urine Drug Test Cup

This one-step urine test uses an integrated drug test cup for convenient testing and fast results. Also, it’s available in a variety panel options including:

  • 5 Panel
  • 6 Panel
  • 7 Panel
  • 10 Panel
  • 12 Panel

All of the above are also available in versions that test for adulterants.

Saliva Drug Test

Another convenient choice for drug test administrators is our saliva drug test. It provides all-in-one convenience for detecting recent ingestion of drugs. To clarify, this oral fluids test is for forensic use only and makes an ideal solution for organizations that work in the criminal justice system.

Test panel options include:

  • 5 Panel
  • 6 Panel
  • 10 Panel
  • 12 Panel

Want more information? You may find the following articles helpful.

uVera Diagnostics has a variety of FDA 510(k) cleared and CLIA waived test kits.

These are affordable, convenient, simple to administer, 99 percent accurate, and fast in providing results.

Set to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) cut-off levels, our urine drug test kits are used by businesses, organizations and agencies in a wide range of industries from staffing to medical to criminal justice to construction and more. We make it easy for you to search for information and drug tests by type of drug tested too. This includes drug descriptions, street names, what the drugs look like, the dangers and side effects, links to the drug tests for each drug, etc.

Among our most popular testing kits is our CR3 Drug Test Cup. This patented test cup has an innovative design (including a large opening, slanted top, and snap-shut lid) that simplifies the process for drug test administrators. Also widely used because of its convenience and fast results is our All-in-one Urine Drug Test Cup. This one-step urine test uses an integrated test cup and is available in a variety of panel options (5 panel, 6 panel, 7 panel, 10 panel, 12 panel, 13 panel and 14 panel). uVera Diagnostics products also include T-Cup Drug Tests, Dip Panel Drug Tests, Generic Dip Panel Drug Tests and Saliva Drug Tests

About Bill Nee, VP Sales/Marketing uVera Diagnostics and Co-designer and Developer of the CR3 split-sample drug test cup.

Bill has 27 years in sales management and marketing. In addition, he is a 12-year veteran of the drug testing industry. As a parent and co-worker, Bill’s focuses his energy on drug testing at every level. Addiction is all around us in alcohol, prescriptions, and street drugs, and that is a constant reminder a drug-free society starts with each and every one of us.

For more information on drug testing, call 1-866-242-5930.




This information is meant for awareness and education purposes only. In addition, any medical or life-saving advice should come from experts. Always consult with your physician about any and all drugs. In conclusion, if it is an emergency, dial 911 or call emergency services.

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