The 10 Questions You’re Afraid to ask about Employee Drug Testing
1. Do I have to touch the specimen?
This is the number one worry of drug testing administrators. The answer is NO. Not only is that unsanitary, but it contaminates the specimen, making it unusable. Just like anyone in the healthcare field, wear gloves at all times and change them in between employee testing. Urine and saliva tests come in many forms, some requiring you to dip a test card into the urine; while others are self-contained, all-in-one cups. These are the most popular. Just remember, you’ll be wearing gloves the whole time, and you certainly will not have to touch the specimen directly.
2. Do I have to be in the bathroom during employee drug testing when somebody is providing a urine sample?
No one wants to be tasked with watching other people urinate, but it’s easy to worry that an employee might tamper with their urine drug test while you aren’t watching, There are rules and guidelines that your drug-free workplace should follow, and these should be put into place before you start drug testing employees as part of pre-employment, post accident and random drug testing.
You probably don’t need to go into the bathroom stall with them. Instead, you can take other precautions to make sure they can’t tamper with or falsify their test results, like asking them to leave all of their belongings outside the room while they take the test and securing any water sources that can be used to dilute the specimen. More information can be found in The SAMHSA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration drug-free toolkit.
3. How do I know that people aren’t cheating on their drug tests?
Thanks to technological advancements, it’s pretty difficult to cheat on a drug test, but you can still take some precautions. In the case of a urine drug test, you can inspect the bathroom to make sure there aren’t any soaps or powders that can alter a test, and you can monitor how long it takes someone to provide a urine sample. If they’re taking an unusually long time, they might be tampering with the test.
Then, once you’ve received an employee’s sample, you should immediately test it with a thermometer strip. If the urine sample is outside the 90 to 100ºF range, it either isn’t fresh urine from the person being tested or it has been altered. Many drug test kits come with built-in temperature strips.
4. I am worried I could be blamed for a positive result or false positive result in employee drug testing.
This is a completely valid concern, especially with drug tests administered onsite at your workplace. To assuage this concern, consider bringing a qualified medical review officer onboard to review the results of every drug test. That way, if a test returns a positive result, they can interview the person who took it to see if anything else — like medication — may have affected the test’s outcome. Also, some all-in-one drug test kits are sealed before they are returned. Some even leave a split sample to send out for further testing.
The 10 Questions You’re Afraid to ask about Employee Drug Testing
5. Am I going to have to time them, especially for urine tests?
Time is a critical element for most drug tests, so yes, you will need to keep an eye on the time. It is important because some people will try to tamper with the test, and that can take longer. To make it easier for you, your drug testing policy should spell out the procedure and include the time limits.
6. If they are cheating on their drug test, what should I do?
With a drug test policy in place, you will be given instructions for every step of the process. Depending on the type of test, it will tell you if it’s been diluted or too cold to be fresh. All of these things are red flags, but you will know what to do. If you’re worried about reporting a co-worker, check out question #10.
7. How do I prepare for employee drug testing to make sure it’s sanitary?
Always follow both your company’s drug testing policy and procedures and the instructions on the drug test kit. To avoid contaminating urine or saliva drug tests before administering them, ensure that they aren’t exposed to the elements and that they’re stored in a secure, temperature-monitored space at all times. Never handle a drug test without a fresh pair of gloves.
8. Now that the specimen is in the drug test kit, how do I make sure I don’t contaminate the specimen?
It’s important to avoid any contamination throughout the drug testing process. When you are preparing a drug test, make sure you don’t encounter any surface contamination. Then, when you’re handling the specimen after the drug test, make sure you are using a new pair of gloves, never touch the sample directly and only use fresh drug test cups, dip panel, and strips to conduct the test.
9. Do I have to explain a drug testing procedure to an employee?
You should refer to your company’s drug testing policy. That is the written rule and guidelines you need to follow, and more than likely they have been reviewed by your company’s attorney. We know that you have questions, like the ones in this blog, but the employees have them too. If an employee or applicant is nervous about taking a drug test, you can calm them down by explaining the procedure and the type of sample they will provide. You can also refer them to your company’s policy.
10. What if the person I’m drug testing is one of my coworkers?
SAMHSA guidelines prohibit administrators from collecting a urine sample from any employee they directly supervise, or any applicant they would be responsible for hiring. If you’re ever worried about a conflict of interest, ask your supervisor to have someone else on your team administer the drug test — it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
We know that drug testing can be a nerve-wracking process, especially if you’re new to the procedure, but hopefully we’ve addressed some of your immediate concerns in this blog. With a drug testing policy in place, you can take all the necessary precautions and be straightforward with your employees, allowing you to maintain a drug-free workplace without too much trouble.
Those are the 10 Questions You’re Afraid to ask about Employee Drug Testing
Want more information? You may find the following articles helpful.
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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.