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Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association
National On-Site Testing Association
National Association of Drug Court Professionals
Society For Human Resources Management


Changing the status quo in workplace drug testing
Important SAMS Program Elements:

1. Written Drug Policy

Prepare and distribute a written statement for signed acknowledgement by all employees that illegal drug use will not be tolerated and may in adverse personnel actions. The policy should detail that drug (and alcohol) abuse creates economic and social consequences that are unacceptable in the workplace environment.

2. A Documented Drug Screening Program

A comprehensive, written drug screening program should be created and adhered to as the implementation guide for the established drug screening policy and clearly outline all relevant responsibilities, processes, methodologies, and procedures.

3. Employee Awareness / Communication and Education Plan

Successful drug-free workplace programs require appropriate the communication to and commitment of all employees; distributing the policy to all employees; posting notifications of the drug-free workplace program sufficiently in advance of implementation; educating your employees about the program as well as program and test administrators, supervisory and management personnel, clients, etc. A drug free workplace orientation program for all employees is an excellent method of communicating corporate policies as well as the economic, health and legal liabilities associated with illicit drug (and alcohol) use that brought about the policy. Communications efforts should be ongoing.

4. Managerial / Supervisor Training

Manager and supervisor substance abuse training enables individual to be coached on the signs, symptoms, behavior changes, performance problems and intervention aspects associated with to drug (and alcohol) abuse.

5. Test Administrator Training & Certification

On-site and /or remote (web-based) training and certification on the proper administration of drug tests, and associated recordkeeping should be accomplished and updated as needed. When selecting a vendor for drug and/or alcohol tests, assure that the vendor provides factory direct training and has a dedicated technical support resource.

6. Drug (and alcohol) Screening Devices

While on-site tests for drugs-of-abuse can be conducted using various biological specimens (for example: urine, hair, blood, oral fluid, sweat), oral-based tests deliver unparalleled of ease-of-use, higher acceptance rate from both employees and test administrators, and greater overall effectiveness for workplace environments. For example, oral based screening is so simple and innocuous, that it can be done at virtually any location (office, construction site, supermarket, etc.) and while under direct observation of the test administrator. This ability solves several significant issues typically associated with urine-based screening such as sample adulteration (cheating the test), as well as the gender and dignity issues. Furthermore, oral-based screening is more appropriate for determining use of marijuana / THC, as it provides detection from immediate use up to a maximum of twenty-four hours. Urine tests require that several hours pass before the THC metabolite can be found in the urine specimen. Oral fluid can also detect cocaine, opiates, methamphetamines, etc. sooner than urine, yet also detect for a period of time, post-ingestion, similar to urine.

Screening for Marijuana, Opiates (including Oxycotin ®/Oxycodone), Methamphetamines (including Ecstasy), and Cocaine will sufficiently cover approximately 97-98% of the illicit drugs typically found in a workplace environment, per drug screening techniques and results published by major private and public screening laboratories.

Note: Employers mandated by federal guidelines may be required to use urine samples for screening of drugs. These cases are typically limited to transportation, nuclear power related activities or functions, and/or the limited branches of the federal government.

7. Confirmatory Screening & MRO Services and Processes

It is recommended that confirmatory laboratory tests be done for all non-negative on-site tests and conducted at an appropriate laboratory using GC/MS (gas chromatography / mass spectrometry) procedures. Chain of custody documentation and MRO (Medical Review Officer) services are also important elements of a drug screening program. A confirmatory test is defined within SAMS as an oral fluid sample, taken during the same session with the employee as the on-site initial screen, which is appropriately identified, packaged, and sent to an appropriate test laboratory for GC/MS confirmatory screening. It is recommended that an MRO (an appropriate M.D. or osteopath) review the confirmatory test results and make a final (Positive or Negative) determination. The MRO makes a final determination makes the “final determination as to whether a sample is “positive” or “negative” for drug abuse after reviewing the laboratory results and communicating with the donor as required. For example, an employee may have a current prescription for medication, and/or recently taken over the counter medication responsible for producing a non-negative result for either or both, the on-site test, or the lab-based GC/MS test.

8. Employer Action / Sanctions

Drug screening is a benefit to employees and employers alike. Both parties have a right to a safe, secure, and competitive work environment. While every company will establish its own policies, it is not recommend that drug screening be viewed as a punitive action or process. Having a “zero tolerance” policy for drug abuse is important, however effectively communicating the consequences for those who violate this corporate policy is equally important. These should be well documented and communicated to all employees in advance of drug / alcohol screening.
For example, will employees be offered and opportunity (company or self-funded) to participate in an EAP (employee assistance program) for a “first offense”, or are they potentially subject to termination?

Note: While users of illicit substances may be provided the opportunity to participate in an EAP off some type, most employers terminate employees who are involved in illicit distribution and, or manufacture in the workplace.

9. Employee Assistance Program / EAP

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides counseling and referral programs, and may be conducted and/or managed directly by the employer or by a third-party contractor. All programs are operated in a confidential manner. The employer, employee, and /or designated insurance providers may be responsible for associated costs.

10. Drug Screening Program Monitoring, Reporting, and Evaluation

It is extremely important to establish a baseline of the current status of your organization relative to the level of drugs and/or alcohol abuse. If drug screening has not been done in the past, or not been done to a sufficient level, an initial random test of the employee population serves as an important baseline for future analysis and reporting.

If a screening for drug abuse in the workplace is being done, review corporate records for the past two to three years and compute the incidence rates relative to key performance indictors, including but not limited to the following:

“Non-negative” and “positive” percentage rates for drug screening and confirmatory testing
Employee retention / turnover
Health care benefit utilization
Workers’ compensation claims and associated ratings
Inventory shrinkage / employee theft
Drug screening tests – total and cost per employee
Direct and indirect savings – total and cost per employees
On-the-job accidents

Calculate specific costs in dollars wherever possible and periodically monitor the effectiveness and success of the drug screening program vs. the established baseline in quantitative terms.


*ORALscreen is a registered trademark of Avitar Technologies, Inc. DRUGOMETER is a trademark of Avitar Technologies, Inc. ORALscreen, ORALscreen OSR: For Forensic Use Only. Not for Consumer or Clinical Use. BreathScan, ORALconfirm: For Forensic Use Only. Not for Consumer or Clinical Use.

& by Pixelgroove