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A Publication of WTVP

The answer is yes. I just finished reading an article that cited a Gallup survey about workplace drug testing. The results were stunning: Ninety-seven percent of the respondents favored some form of drug testing in the workplace. Among employees currently working under a drug testing policy, 22 percent believed it to be too lenient, and only 2 percent thought the policy was too strict.

Why would employees care so much about a drug-free workplace? A reasonable assumption is that employees who don't use drugs are concerned about personal safety and tired of compensating for those who do. What seems apparent from common sense becomes astounding when looking at the economics. Drug users are/have:

These facts likely played a significant role in drug testing increasing from 3 percent of the Fortune 200 companies in the 1980s to nearly 100 percent a decade later. A Fortune Top 5 former executive estimated drug users cost his company $3,500 per employee annually.

A company can test its employees for any number of drugs. The most common, a five-panel drug test, detects cannaboids (marijuana), cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP). Results are usually produced within 24 hours, and reliable, rapid tests-not found in the local pharmacy-can produce results in 10 minutes.

Implementing a company-wide drug testing policy isn't a cumbersome process, but does require some legal consultation. Any policy regarding drug testing must be a written policy that outlines the purpose and implementation of drug testing. The management team includes a designated employer representative (DER), medical review officer (MRO), the collection agency, and the laboratory.

The DER serves as the sole contact between the company and the laboratory. He or she receives the results of the testing and is responsible for coordinating contact between the MRO, collection agency, and the employee.

The MRO is a licensed physician who reviews all results received by the lab. Not every licensed physician is qualified to perform the functions of an MRO; it requires special training and certification. MROs often work directly with laboratories. Their purpose is to certify the results, notify donors with positive tests to advise them of their rights, review the results of the test, and clarify that no medications are being used that may cause a false positive. One example that could produce such a result is the medication Maribol, used to treat nausea, which is a cannaboid derivative.

The collection agency serves as an agent of the laboratory. It provides certified collectors for both Department of Transportation (DOT) and non-DOT situations. The collector secures the collection site, performs the collection, and provides secure transfer of the specimen to the laboratory, which provides the actual testing. Collections may be performed on- or off-site.

Although it may seem an extensive process, the cost is low-usually $35 to $50 per test. Compared to the aforementioned productivity costs and the general willingness of employees to ensure a drug-free workplace, the economic benefit is apparent, and a drug-free workplace just makes sense. IBI

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