Drug Testing In The Workplace Analysis

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Drug testing in the workplace is normally done via mobile services to simulate a laboratory screening environment, where the test subject’s samples methodically collected from employees and explored. Latest publications on this topic even boast of portable drug testing kits to be used by the employer to check for substance abuse among their employees. This subject has grown controversial because some people are known to buy test results and those who have knowledge about cheating methods can pass the test even if only a short notice has been given. To address this, random drug testing is a widespread practice in many companies.

Types And Methods

A drug test is a qualitative analysis of a biological sample, usually urine, saliva or hair, to detect the presence of certain substances or their metabolite forms. It is typically done in sports to check the presence of steroids or in the workplace settings to detect the presence of illicit drugs. Methods of drug testing in the workplace are most likely to identify THC metabolites from marijuana or cannabis users. These fat-soluble metabolites remain in the body for a much longer period of time compared to the more dangerous drugs such as cocaine and heroin which are much harder to detect and normally not tested for.

There are many types of drug tests, for example: urine, hair, saliva (mouth swab or oral), sweat, and blood. The ones most commonly used in the workplace are urine, saliva, and hair.

A urine drug screen involves splitting the sample into two portions or specimens. The first part of sample is checked by simple immunoassay test, and if the initial screening is found to be positive, then the other specimen is used to confirm the results via a gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis. Instant tests for saliva and urine samples are available; some of them have high accuracies and can be used in spot check in the workplace. The United States Department of Labor allows saliva-based drug tests which can detect prior drug use after one to two days. The drawback of this method is that many adulteration products that can mask drugs in saliva are available online. Blood testing is another common method. Although it is considered the most accurate, blood screening is not often used because this method is expensive and requires medically trained personnel with specialized and sophisticated equipment.


In the United States, the Drug-Free Workplace Act calls for federal contractors and other associated affiliates to offer drug-free workplaces as an initial condition before a contract or grant is obtained from a federal agency. Private companies which perform mandatory drug testing on its employees are fostering safe and wholesome business practices under drug-free settings. Safety-sensitive companies and institutions, such as those concerned in aviation, petroleum processing, nuclear plants, food manufacturing, transportation, etc., cannot afford to have a single employee working under the influence of psychoactive substances as one minor mistake can potentially lead to a significant loss of lives and property. In some states, mandatory drug testing in the workplace is done in the trucking industry because this practice has been shown to reduce truck accidents and fatalities.

All in all, the number of workplace drug tests is growing every year

Growing of a workplace drug testing in the US


Drug testing in the United States was started following the accident in the US Navy in 1981; it involved a plane crash on the carrier deck of the USS Nimitz which led to loss of many lives and numerous injuries of navy personnel. The US Secretary of Navy then mandated rigorous drug testing shortly afterwards to prevent any similar untoward incidents from happening.

Ways To Pass

You can find numerous ways how to pass a drug test even for constant users. Most of them are either detoxifying body from drug traces using special detox products or substituting testing specimen with clean sample or synthetic urine. The methods of cheating are improving constantly, so despite of increasing number of workplace drug tests the number of positive results is decreasing from year to year.

Decreasing number of positive tests

Pros And Cons

The workplace drug screening is controversial, so it has both supporters and opponents, which have its own arguments. Here are main of them:


  1. Reduces the chances of accidents from happening. Impaired judgment and slow reactions during emergency situations are common to drug and alcohol abusers. Workplace testing will encourage employees to stay drug-free, and any accidents that might be caused by being high on illicit substances will be prevented.
  2. Increases the productivity. The employees who abuse alcohol or drugs are the ones most likely to cause harm to other employees or to damage company property. If the welfare of the employees is taken into consideration by ensuring a drug-free environment, then workplace productivity is stimulated. The more employees will be comfortable in their working environment, the more quality work they can perform.
  3. Timely help is offered to employees. Catching those who have drug abuse problems in the workplace can help them to get rehabilitated in time so that they can become productive members of the society once again. Drug treatment programs can also be given by the company to those who have such kind of problems.


  1. Invades the privacy of the employees. Random drug testing can be highly discriminatory in nature. Some employees are even subjected to more tests compared to others in the workplace, even if there is no probable cause to perform such action on them. Moreover, there are many cases wherein job applicants of certain companies are not hired unless they comply with mandatory drug testing requirements.
  2. It is costly. This is especially true for big companies because a large number of employees will undergo screening and testing, although bulk rates can be obtained from many drug testing services or contractors.
  3. The process may be unconstitutional. Aside from the fact that this procedure is an issue of the invasion of an individual’s privacy, workplace drug testing may also be considered as inherently unconstitutional in the United States. There are no specific rulings made on this issue yet, but some rights advocates feel that the act of drug testing in the context of a workplace is a violation of certain personal rights and freedom.


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