Whether pre-employment or post-employment, drug testing can improve the safety of a workplace and the health of employees. However, your testing program won’t be effective without a thorough and effective policy that utilizes the right drug tests. There are several different types of drug tests, which differ in procedure, technology, specimen, the drugs that are tested, and the federal/forensic requirements. If you aren’t sure which drug test fits the needs of your workplace, review the summaries below and contact Employee Screening Services for help.
Types of Drug Tests
When you’re discussing different types of drug tests, you can focus on several aspects: the procedure, the specimens, the drugs tested, and the federal/forensic standards.
The procedure can be initiated in several different ways. Pre-employment testing takes place before someone is hired, while random testing is conducted unpredictably to increase effectiveness. Reasonable suspicion testing is conducted when someone is believed to be under the influence of drugs, and post-accident drug testing is used after an accident to test those who contributed to the accident.
Specimens that can be tested to identify drugs in a person’s system include urine, hair, perspiration, saliva, and blood. Urine is the most common because it is quick, convenient, and effective. Hair can reveal long-term exposure to drugs, and perspiration is easily collected and tested through sweat wipes or a sweat patch. Saliva (also called oral fluid) has become much more prevalent in drug-free workplace programs and is currently under review for use in Department of Transportation testing, due to its simple administration and reduced issues with specimen substitution or adulteration. Finally, while much more invasive, blood testing is very accurate.
Which drugs would you like to test for? View this previous blog post to find out which families of drugs each panel of drug test analyzes. For example, a 5-panel drug test looks for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), opiates, phencyclidines (PCP), cocaine, and amphetamines. Other drugs for which you might check include methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, methadone, methaqualone, propoxyphene, ecstasy, and oxycodone. The availability of drug panels also varies by the type of specimen collected (urine, hair, oral fluid, etc).
Finally, there are federal and forensic standards for drug tests:
- DOT Drug Test: Many workers in safety-sensitive positions are required to take a Department of Transportation (DOT) drug test. This includes workers employed in the following industries: commercial motor carriers, aviation, railroad, public transportation, pipeline and hazardous materials, and maritime. The DOT test is a 5-panel, lab-based procedure that tests for five families of drugs: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), amphetamines (AMP), opioids (OPI), cocaine (COC), and phencyclidines (PCP). It is a federal test that utilizes urine specimens.
- DFWP Drug Test: Drug-free workplace program (DFWP) tests typically follow similar collection processes and testing methodologies as DOT, but can also be affected by state and local guidelines. They can also be broadened to include lab testing or instant testing options, and can test for a larger variety of drugs, to include commonly abused prescription medications or even synthetics (like K2 and bath salts). The tests are more varied regarding specimens as well, as they can include hair, urine, or oral fluid.
If you’re looking to implement a drug-free workplace through pre-employment or random drug testing, contact Employee Screening Services. Based in Springfield, St. Louis, and Kansas City, Missouri, and Indianapolis, Indiana, we offer customized solutions to make drug testing simple, and our nationwide network of clinics and providers allows ESS to be available anytime, anywhere. For a free needs analysis, give us a call today at 1-888-379-7697 or contact us online. We would be happy to help!