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8 Common Drug Testing Mistakes to Avoid for Businesses

drug testing mistakes

Recent studies show that workplace drug use is on the rise. Is your company prepared? Drug tests can help keep everyone in your organization safe, and bring to light any underlying issues that can impact both employee performance and workplace safety. Yet, before you invest in a solution for your company, it pays to know what not to do. Today, we’re sharing eight of the most common drug testing mistakes that even the most well-intended managers make.

We’ll also share how to avoid them and optimize your testing program moving forward.

1. Failing to Create a Drug Testing Policy

As with any standard operating procedure (SOP), there should be a policy and process in place to mandate the steps surrounding drug testing at your organization.

A complete and thorough policy can help define protocols to take at every step, so there’s no second-guessing what to do if an employee refuses a test or tests positive, among other possible outcomes. Key points to include in your written policy include:

  • The drug testing methods to use
  • The specimens to test with each method
  • The consequences of altering a drug test (e.g. substitution or dilution)
  • The consequences of failing a drug test

2. Applying a Blanket Approach

There is not a one-size-fits-all drug test designed to work every time, for every circumstance.

For instance, if you suspect that an employee has been engaging in drug use for months, a hair follicle test is usually a more accurate gauge, as it can detect ongoing drug use. While they can be a valuable investment, most urine tests don’t offer as long of a detection window.

To this end, it’s best to invest in a few different substance tests, so you can always make sure you have the right one on hand to fit the circumstance.

3. Failing to Establish Testing Timelines

Does the extent of your testing policy include a footnote in your company handbook that states your team reserves the right to drug test at your discretion?

You might think that leaving the approach vague will give you the freedom to test any time that your team sees fit. However, not being clear in your methods can open your company up to disputes.

To protect your organization, you need to define rules around when you will and will not conduct drug testing. While you’re at it, include procedures to follow in the event that a special circumstance circumvents this schedule.

4. Not Setting Consequences

If your drug testing policies do not contain exact language around the corrective action your company will take after a positive test, you could expose your team to major pushback.

Chiefly, your actions could be deemed unfairly discriminatory in nature, especially if one employee receives a harsher penalty for drug use than another employee who tests positive for the same substance. Setting defined consequences keeps your team from unknowingly showing bias or favoring long-term employees over those who just started.

5. Ignoring Suspected Drug Use

Your company should have set guidelines about which kinds of suspicious employee behaviors warrant a drug test. For instance, you can note to look out for certain physical signs and symptoms, such as bloodshot eyes. In addition, you should also define which types of actions or non-actions can also prompt testing.

In terms of the latter, these may include:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Productivity loss
  • Accident-prone behavior
  • Mood swings

This way, you don’t have to wonder whether or not you’re following protocol by ordering a test. In addition, you don’t have to wait until a generic group testing date to confirm your suspicions. The more proactive you can be, the earlier you can catch an issue before it snowballs into a bigger problem that could threaten the safety and security of your entire team

6. Forgetting Employee Approval

You’ve established your drug testing policy and set your guidelines. You’re good to go, right? Not quite.

Next, it’s important to communicate these changes and updates with your workforce. Otherwise, they could claim that they were unaware of the procedures or were unfairly targeted.

Take the time to explain the details behind the policy and conduct workplace training so everyone is up-to-date on how it works and what it entails. Document the completion of their training and include it in each employee’s file.

7. Giving Too Much Notice

Even if you have a random screening policy in place, it’s all too easy for employees to falsify their drug tests. While modern testing technology has made this more difficult than ever before, savvy workers will at least try to pull one over on their managers.

Most of the time, this deception occurs when employees are given a significant amount of time to prepare for their test, or they’re told far in advance when it will occur.

8. Using a Limited Test Panel

There are many situations in which a standard, five-panel drug test will meet your company’s needs.

Other times, however, you may need a more advanced or comprehensive test that monitors the presence of a greater number of substances. In that case, a 10-panel, 12-panel or even 14-panel drug test might be more appropriate. Consider the extent of your testing approach and don’t be afraid to look into your different options.

Don’t Make These Drug Testing Mistakes

In your quest to keep your employees as safe and productive as possible, it’s important to take a careful approach to your workplace drug testing procedures.

By establishing clear guidelines early on and sticking to them, you can help avoid these eight drug testing mistakes moving forward. As you set up and stock your program, we’re here to help every step of the way.

Take a look at our online shop and explore the different drug testing kits we offer. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.

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