February 26, 2020 Last updated February 28th, 2022 3,168 Reads share

What’s Included in an Employee Drug and Health Screening?

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One of the biggest costs to companies is their staff. Your team is a big investment, so it’s important to make sure you’re staffing employees that are fit for the job and able to perform according to company standards.

In many industries, one of those standards is that your employees pass a drug or health screening that determines that they are equipped to address their job duties. Substance abuse and other health concerns can impact job performance and create an unsafe working environment for others.

Therefore, as part of most business’s hiring processes, and even as an ongoing requirement for employment, employees generally need to undergo a drug test. But what exactly does a drug and health screening include? And how is it beneficial to employers?

Drug and Health Screening

A drug test is a screening that detects the presence of any illegal or prescription drugs that can be tested using urine, blood, hair, saliva, and even sweat.

You can test for drugs such as marijuana, opioids, amphetamines, cocaine, and steroids, to name a few. It also can detect high levels of alcohol in the blood. Physical exams may also be part of a drug and health screening if certain physical health requirements must be met for the job role. Take a look at the New York drug testing laws and how that could effect your new job in the city.

A drug and/or health screening is typically done prior to hiring if required as part of the job role, or can be done as part of an ongoing occupational health process in the workplace to ensure employees maintain a certain standard of health and avoid substance abuse.

Why Screen Employees?

As has been mentioned, there are some sectors and industries that require a certain level of health for their employees to be effective, especially if they are doing physical labor. Not doing drug and health screenings can put your employees and business at risk. For example, people operating heavy machinery can put lives at risk if they abuse drugs or alcohol and cause several safety and liability issues for the company.

Beyond those working in jobs that require manual labor, employees who have consumed too much alcohol or have abused drugs can present dangers to any workplace and make the environment unsafe for other employees. Doing regular drug and/or health screenings incentivizes employees to refrain from substance abuse and maintain a healthy work environment, no matter the industry.

Screenings can also offer lasting benefits to employees who may struggle with substance abuse. As a result of a drug test or a health screening, your company can provide resources to help employees overcome substance abuse or other health concerns. By being proactive and concerned about the health and well-being of your employees, you can offer support that will create a safer, healthier place to work.

Symptoms of Drug Abuse

As an employer, you also have the right to do random drug and health tests, especially if members of your team exhibit symptoms of drug abuse.

Symptoms of drug abuse may include the following:

  • Slurred speech or slower speech than normal
  • Dilated pupils
  • Signs of agitation, panic, paranoia, or delirium
  • Breathing problems
  • Sickness and nausea

Being clear with your team that random drug tests can be administered at will by the employer can also motivate your employees to refrain from drug and alcohol abuse.

What Happens During a Drug Test?

A drug test will require employees to give a urine sample, as a general rule. Only a couple of ounces will need to be collected, after which a test can be run to determine alcohol and drug levels.

In some instances, a medical professional or member of staff may need to be present when the sample is collected, especially if the drug test requires a blood sample. Blood tests would obviously require professional assistance, meaning either on-site testing at a lab or bringing in medical professionals to the workplace.

Before administering tests, it’s a good idea to remind your employee that they should let you know if they are taking any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and even supplements. These could cause a drug test to come back positive, even though employees may not be abusing drugs or alcohol.

What the Results Say

If the employee’s results come back negative, then it means no drugs were found in their body, or the level was very low. If the results come back as positive, then it means that one or more drugs were found at an established level. It is worth noting that on occasion, false positives do happen. So often after a positive result, there may be another test to determine if that employee is taking certain drugs or not.

From there, you can offer support resources and determine a course of action for employees that have positive tests. It’s wise to develop policies prior to administering tests that clearly outline the repercussions for employees who do not pass a drug test so that your staff is aware of your right to administer consequences based on the test results.