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The NIDA 5 - employees drug testing
The process of drug testing in USA was initiated in the latter part of the 1980s. During this ...
Types of testing
Pre-employment drug testing Drug testing for prospective employees is very widely u...

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Types of testing

Pre-employment drug testing

Drug testing for prospective employees is very widely undertaken by organizations. Such testing is comparatively less costly as only one type of testing is done. Generally, pre-employment drug testing involves only urine testing. Some people have challenged the effectiveness of such testing because of the possibility of the date of the test or the sample being manipulated. Moreover, there are chances that the urine sample might be exchanged. On account of this reason, a few organizations resort to the measure of having the prospective employee provide a urine sample in the presence of a witness. However, this measure threatens the individual’s privacy. Also, there are chances of ‘shy bladder syndrome’. So, the use of witnesses in obtaining a urine sample is generally done only in prisons and in drug treatment programs. In case witnesses are not used, certain other measures are undertaken to ensure that the sample is not manipulated. These measures include cutting off water supply in the testing room to ensure that water is not mixed in the sample. Sometimes, if water supply is available, the water is made blue in color so as to detect if an attempt has been made to dilute the sample. Some drug testing centers resort to measures such as requiring the individual to wear a gown while providing the sample.

Random drug testing

Random drug testing is an ideal method for detecting drug usage. However, such drug testing has been widely criticized. As per the rules of the US Department of Transportation, it is compulsory for certain organizations in USA to undertake random drug tests. In certain firms, random drug testing is not mandated by law; however, it is undertaken in order to detect drug abuse among the employees. Random drug testing does not violate the United States Constitution. As per the Fourth Amendment, citizens have the right of security in their houses, as a person, and with their papers and have the right to refuse seizures and searches that they feel are unreasonable. According to the verdict of the United States Supreme Court in the case Skinner v. Railway Labor Assn., 489 U.S. 602,in the year 1989, employers can undertake random drug testing of their employees working on jobs where security is of great importance.
With regards to random drug testing, Justice Kennedy opined that employees working in safety-sensitive occupations are required to undergo drug testing. This is because their alertness is very much essential to the safety of the general public. The regulations of the FRA should be followed. This would put off employees in such occupations from the use of drugs and alcohol.
However, a few others are not in favor of random drug testing. Justice Marshall and Justice Brennan, presenting their opinion against such testing, said that the war against the consumption of illicit drugs is worth fighting for. However, government involvement in this war is questionable. Subjecting employees to compulsory collection of urine and/or blood samples would be a Draconian measure. It would interfere with the employees’ right to liberty. Cases such as Hirabayashi v. United States, 320 U.S. 81 (1943); Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), and the Red scare and McCarthy-era internal subversion cases, Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919); Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494 (1951) have proven that a heavy price has to be paid for interfering with an individual’s right to privacy and liberty.
Random drug testing is undertaken by a large number of employers in USA to detect drug abuse among their employees. It is also used by drug rehabilitation programs, jails, the army, the police, the fire department as well as by government organizations. In recent times, schools have also started undertaking random drug testing of their students. Sometimes, parents undertake random drug testing in case of their children. The purpose behind going for random drug testing is to prevent employees from abusing drugs, as there are greater chances of drug abuse being detected in such testing as opposed to other methods. Different methods are used to decide which person/s should be tested, such as drawing chits with the names of people from a hat or deciding on the basis of random numbers. Each of these methods has its own flaws. There are chances that the person drawing numbers or names at random might be targeting a certain person. In this case, the person in charge might go on drawing names or numbers at random till the name or the number of the targeted individual comes up.
It is very difficult to determine whether the process of drawing names at random for drug testing has been done in an unbiased manner or not. If the employer or the people undertaking drug testing are not aware of the numbers allotted to the employees before drawing numbers at random, the system would be fairly unbiased. Also, third parties can be called upon to draw random numbers so as to make the process unbiased. In this situation, it can be ensured that a particular employee was not targeted.
The main motive behind undertaking drug testing at random is to discourage employees from consuming drugs. However, some people argue that random drug testing amounts to interference in the privacy of employees and leads to humiliation, especially if they are not involved in drug usage on the job. Moreover, there is a greater possibility of cannabis usage being detected in random drug testing, as the THC metabolites stay in the body for a longer time as compared to other drugs.

Post-incident drug testing

Post-incident drug testing is not very commonly undertaken. It is not as popular as random workplace drug testing or pre-employment drug testing. However, businesses are beginning to realize the importance of getting employees tested after an accident or a similar incident. Hence, organizations are now turning to post-incident drug testing. The aim behind undertaking post-incident drug testing is to detect whether the individual had consumed drugs at the time of the accident. This would help in protecting the interests of the organization. If drug usage is found during the accident, the firm can be protected from liability. To detect immediate drug usage, either blood or saliva testing is made use of. Testing of hair, sweat or urine can only give an idea of drug consumption some time prior. DUI testing can also be considered as a form of post-incident drug testing. Drug testing can also be undertaken by an employer when an employee is apparently inebriated on the job, smells of alcohol or if he/she is performing inadequately, apparently under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Only blood and urine testing are legally accepted in USA and other countries, though saliva testing is also gradually being accepted in courts of law as evidence. It needs to be ensured that the sample follows the chain of custody requirements. Moreover, the testing should be undertaken in a laboratory. If an employee tests positive for drug usage in on-the-job testing, it is necessary that laboratory testing is undertaken before any action is taken against the employee.