Employers choose to test employees for drug and alcohol use at a variety of times. Some conduct random drug testing, some test prior to employment, and many invest in post-accident drug testing. Post-accident testing is performed after an employee has been involved in an accident while at work. The employer must establish how and when post-accident drug testing will occur, clearly communicating the details in the company’s drug-testing policy. If you do not currently use this form of testing, why not explore the purpose of post-accident drug testing and your procedural options?
Post-Accident Drug Testing
How It Helps Employers
After a workplace accident, employers use post-accident drug testing to determine whether the ingestion of drugs or alcohol factored into the accident. It is important to note, however, that a positive result in and of itself does not prove that an employee’s substance use caused the accident.
Although the primary purpose of post-accident drug testing is to determine whether drug use led to unsafe work practices, it produces other benefits as well. For example, in some states, employers may receive benefits related to workers’ compensation premiums and claims if they implement a drug-free workplace program that involves post-accident and pre-employment drug testing. In addition, it may discourage drug use among employees (especially accident-prone employees). Plus, it offers peace of mind. After an accident, especially a very damaging or even lethal accident, employers seek to understand the cause so that they can prevent such incidents in the future. A drug test is just one of several resources an employer can use to better understand and prevent workplace accidents.
When and Where It Is Conducted
What sort of accident necessitates post-accident drug testing? Each individual employer may decide the criteria for testing, but many choose to test if the accident involves fatalities, injuries requiring medical assistance, police citations, or damages to property valued at a specified monetary amount.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) implemented a new rule this year that requires employers in certain industries to electronically submit all OSHA injury and illness data. It also requires employers to inform their employees that they have the right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without retaliation. Finally, the rule clarifies that employers’ policies and procedures must be “reasonable” so as not to discourage employees from reporting accidents. To review the rule in its entirety, visit the website of the Federal Register. Due to this rule, employers may not employ a “blanket” post-accident drug testing policy. Testing must be limited to situations in which employee drug use very likely caused the injury or illness, and it may not be used as a threat.
Once an accident has occurred, testing should be completed within 12 hours. Why? The window of detection for drugs varies based on the substance and the testing specimen. The most common specimen choices are urine and oral fluid, as they can both be used to detect very recent drug use. Hair, on the other hand, is better for long-term drug testing, so it is not very useful in a post-accident capacity. In addition, all federally mandated drug tests (like those demanded by the Department of Transportation) are required to use urine.
Most employers also require the tested employee to stop working until they have received the drug test results. This way, if the results come back positive, the employee will not have endangered anyone or anything by working in the meantime.
Post-accident drug testing can occur in a variety of secure locations. Some companies use an off-site testing location, while others hire a testing service that can send specimen collectors to an on-site collection spot. In addition, some hospitals offer drug testing as an added service. Because they are often unable to retain properly trained testing staff (as that is not a hospital staff’s primary function), some turn to drug testing companies for support.
If your organization would like to implement post-accident drug testing, contact Tomo today. Based in Springfield, St. Louis, and Kansas City, Missouri, Tomo Drug Testing offers customized solutions to make drug testing simple, and our nationwide network of clinics and providers allows Tomo to be available anytime, anywhere. We even work with hospitals who offer post-accident drug testing. Since many hospitals don’t have a great amount of time or resources to devote to testing, they hire Tomo to provide well-trained and professional collectors as well as 24-hour coverage. We can also provide Breath Alcohol Tests (BATs), which many hospitals wish to offer but cannot administer due to lack of equipment or trained staff. To learn more, please contact us today.